Erdoğan: Western response to refugee crisis a ‘crime against humanity’

Erdoğan: Western response to refugee crisis a ‘crime against humanity’

Erdoğan: Western response to refugee crisis a ‘crime against humanity’

DHA Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again criticized western countries for their response to the global refugee crisis, describing it as a “crime against humanity.”

“We now have over two million refugees; we could not have left them under the bombs,” Erdoğan said June 21 at a meeting in Istanbul. 

“We could not have acted similar to those who say ‘let them die’ in the Aegean and the Mediterranean,” he added, in a veiled reference to the European Union’s much-criticized stance in the crisis.

“What other countries do and do not do is not our business, we are obliged to the job we have been charged by our faith and our history,” Erdoğan said.

At a meeting a day earlier, Erdoğan said world countries not responding to a global refugee crisis was a “crime against humanity.”

“No country can attain the welfare and peace they desire by closing themselves to the outer world,” the president said on June 20, at an iftar dinner program in Turkey’s southeastern Mardin province.      

He stated countries which refused to open their doors to refugees avoided contributing to Turkey’s refugee response.

“Now, in our country, there are two million refugees. In Europe as a whole, this figure is not even 200,000,” he said. “We did not abandon any victims or those oppressed at the hands of the cruel, and never will.”

Erdoğan noted Ankara sought peace and protection of the rights for all peoples in the region, and not for any single ethnicity or faith group.

Erdoğan thanked U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres and Hollywood star and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie for their visit to Turkey June 20.

There are currently 25 refugee camps hosting Syrians in Turkey, 16 of which are container cities with the remaining nine consisting of tents.

Turkey shares a 900-kilometer border with Syria and has sheltered more than 1.7 million Syrians, according to the U.N., with more arriving because of ongoing bloodshed in the war-torn country.

According to government figures, the country has spent more than $6 billion so far on refugees while the international community’s help has amounted to some $300 million.

The Turkish president also criticized the major powers’ laissez-faire response to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) taking over the Tal Abyad district in northern Syria near the Turkish border. Any solution that was incompatible with the region’s history, sociology and demographics would not work, Erdoğan stressed.

Fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants around Tal Abyad has fueled a new wave of desperate civilians trying to escape.

According to Turkish officials, a total of 20,997 Syrian refugees fleeing clashes in Tal Abyad have entered Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa province through the Akcakale border crossing in the past two weeks.