Turkey fears new influx of up to 600,000 Syrian migrants: Deputy PM
ANKARA - Agence France-Presse
AA photoThe Turkish government fears that fierce fighting in Syria's Aleppo province will spark the arrival of up to 600,000 migrants at its border in a "worst case scenario", Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Feb. 8.
"The worst-case scenario that could happen in this region in the short term would be a new influx of 600,000 refugees at the Turkish frontier," Kurtulmus told journalists following a cabinet meeting.
The clashes in the north of Aleppo province -- sparked by a week-long government assault with Russian air support -- have displaced tens of thousands of people.
"As a consequence of this situation, we are seeing 200,000 people being forced to flee -- 65,000 in the direction of Turkey and 135,000 inside Syria," Kurtulmuş said.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said earlier Feb. 8 that some 30,000 people were already massed at the Turkish border.
Huge crowds of migrants, mainly women and children, have been forced to wait at the Öncüpınar border crossing, which remains closed with only medical emergencies allowed through.
"Our objective for now is to keep this wave of migrants on the other side of Turkey's borders as much as is possible, and to provide them with the necessary services there," Kurtulmuş said.
The Turkish government has insisted for several days that its open-door policy to migrants fleeing the Syrian war remains unchanged and that it is ready, if necessary, to accommodate a new wave of arrivals.
"Obviously, as always, we will provide for our Syrian brothers and accept them when necessary," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But he added that his country, which is hosting some 2.7 million Syrian migrants, should not be expected "to shoulder the migrant issue alone."