Thousands of Syrian refugees stranded in Turkish border

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Source: / Ph: EFE/Sedat Suna / The Dawn / February 10, 2016. Thousands of Syrian refugees are still stranded in appalling conditions on the Turkish border, while authorities refuse to let them pass. Refugees are a “bargaining chip” between the Turkish government, the UN and the EU.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said yesterday that his country already hosts three million refugees and has spent 10,000 million dollars on them. With these statements, he rejected the request by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) for Ankara to let into the country tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing from the clashes in Aleppo.
“What does the UN say? Open your borders to refugees. What do they do for them? What good is it? Is it so easy?”, said Erdogan after the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) asked Turkey, on Tuesday, to reopen its border to those who are fleeing from the regime’s offensive on the city of Aleppo in Northwestern Syria.

“So far, we have received in our home three million Syrians and Iraqis. How many have they received? In what country?”, said the head of state in a speech from the Presidential Palace in Ankara.

Erdogan also said that while the UN has only delivered 455 million dollars to Turkey to care for the refugees, the country has already spent 10,000 million on this crisis since 2001. The Turkish President also criticized the slowness and inefficiency of the international community and said foreign representatives speak of plans and projects without carrying out any kind of concrete action.

“The project, funds, the areas, everything is in thin air. They come in person and tell us: ‘Present plan, a project, something’. Are you making fun of us?”, he charged.

The Turkish government announced that there are about 70,000 people on the Syrian side of the border who have fled attacks by the Syrian army, backed by Russian aviation against opposition forces in Aleppo. The Turkish government does not allow neither the entry of Syrian refugees to Turkey nor of organizations of humanitarian aid for refugees.

According to international agencies, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) NGO, which has an islamic orientation and is allied with the Turkish government, installed on the Syrian side about 2,270 campaign tents, as well as some large tents designed for 50-70 people which are used when there is a massive influx. Also, they distributed daily rations of food and water. This is interpreted as a sign that the Turkish government does not intend to allow the passage of these refugees within its territory.

In the exchange of accusations between the Turkish government and the UN, Erdogan supports his arguments with the fact that Turkey is one of the countries that hosts most refugees, like Lebanon, which shares borders with Syria. The EU, however, welcomes only a fraction of all refugees of the Middle East conflict.

In recent months, the plight of Syrian refugees has become a sort of bargaining chip between Turkey and the EU. Turkey seeks to press for more funding for greater economic and military integration and increase the support to its advantage in regional disputes. The EU, meanwhile, ignores the bellicose and repressive escalation of Turkey against the Kurds and the population in general, because they seek to make Turkey curb the wave of Syrian refugees. A sinister cycle of favors, without any concern for the lives of hundreds of thousands.

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