Ruling AKP says Turkey cannot handle new migrant wave from Syria’s Idlib
Turkey cannot handle a fresh wave of migrants from Syria, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said on Dec. 23 and slammed the international community for “leaving Turkey alone” amid the refugee crisis.
Speaking after the Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting of the AKP, party spokesperson Ömer Çelik said Turkey can no longer “bear the burden” of the feared migration influx “on its own” and voiced concern about the intensified attacks against civilians in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib.
“Another migration flow is coming [from Idlib]. From now on, Turkey cannot compensate this refugee influx on its own,” Çelik said at a press conference.
He also underlined that the world, especially European countries, have not “fulfilled their commitments” relying on Turkey for taking care of the issue.
Çelik also urged other countries to provide support for the planned safe zone, which will include secured settlements for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
“Therefore, if no support is provided for the establishment of the safe zone, the construction of settlements in the safe zone to which [Syrian refugees] will return, the refugee issue will become that of Europe’s more than Turkey’s,” Çelik said.
He also added that the policies which confer the “refugee issue as Turkey’s own is now over.”
“We clearly express that this will be our approach and the issue will become our allies’ issue,” he said.
Turkey already hosts over 3.6 million Syrians - the world’s biggest refugee population. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 22 that it could not handle a new influx and was urging Russia to stop the strikes in Idlib.
The Turkey-based Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH) said on Dec. 23 that 120,000 Syrians were fleeing towards the Turkish border, Reuters has reported.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate end to the hostilities, which he said had displaced 30,000 people in the last week alone, his spokesman said.
“The secretary-general reminds all parties of their obligations to protect civilians and ensure freedom of movement,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture the Idlib region, the last significant area of Syria still under rebel control after eight-and-a-half years of civil war.
Russia and Iran have supported Assad’s forces during the Syrian conflict while Turkey has backed Syrian rebels fighting Assad.
Russian and Syrian army jets have been targeting civilian convoys trying to flee the Idlib city of Maarat al-Numan, leaving hundreds of families still trapped there, activists and aid groups have said.