Turkey asks Europe for help with Syrian refugees
BERLIN/ANKARA - Agence France-Presse
A displaced Syrian woman and her grandson in a refugee camp In the border with Turkey, near Azaz village, Syria, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo)Turkey's Europe minister today called on Europe to do more to help his country tackle the more than 100,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, accusing the bloc of being fixated on its debt crisis.
In an interview with German daily Die Welt, Egemen Bağış said: "Europe should start thinking about the people who have fled Syria into Turkey." "Europe is in a state of paralysis. There is no progress because it is completely fixated on the euro crisis," he added, referring to the three-year financial difficulties that have plunged many eurozone countries into recession.
The Turkish disaster agency AFAD said today that the number of Syrians fleeing the conflict in their homeland and seeking refuge in Turkey has now reached 100,363.
Bağış spoke as EU finance ministers met in Luxembourg to ramp up pressure on Syria and also Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.
In September, the European Commission announced an additional 50 million euros ($65 million) in humanitarian aid to help civilians caught up in the violence.
That brought the total available from the Commission to 119 million euros and the EU's contribution in all to 200 million euros, or half of all international help offered at that point.
But Bağış demanded more, telling Die Welt: "Europe has to help people who need a safe haven. It's time for Europe to finally help out." The United Nations estimates that more than 2.5 million people have been affected by the fighting. There are more than 348,000 Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries, but many more are unregistered.