Politics, top headline

Turkey no longer able to face new refugee flow: Erdogan

Building higher walls no way to prevent irregular migration, says President Erdogan

Faruk Zorlu   | 19.02.2019
 Turkey no longer able to face new refugee flow: Erdogan

By Sevil Celik and Nurettin Coskun


Turkey’s president said Tuesday that the country would not be able to shoulder a new potential migration wave on its own.

Speaking in Istanbul at the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Budapest Process on Migration, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said building higher walls with barbed wire was no way to prevent irregular migration.

There are around 260 million migrants, over 68 million displaced people and more than 25 million refugees worldwide, he said, underscoring that these numbers are increasing day by day due to hunger, famine, civil wars, terrorist attacks, political uncertainties and economic reasons.

Turkey has spent over $37 billion of its own national resources sheltering refugees, he added, citing UN figures. 

Touching on allegations of a so-called Armenian genocide, Erdogan said Turkey would leave the issue to historians, regardless of the propaganda spread in the West.

He said Turkey had never committed genocide in its history.

The Budapest Process -- a consultative forum on comprehensive and sustainable systems for regular migration -- has been chaired by Turkey since 2006.

Cutting off aid to Palestinians 

Referring to a decision by the U.S. to cut all aid to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Erdogan said cutting off aid to Palestinian refugees and trying to discipline them through poverty is inhuman.

He said it is extremely wrong to use these people, who were driven from their homeland 70 years ago, as a political tool.

Referring to the UN data, he said: "I am saying this as the president of a country that hosts the highest number of refugees in the world.” 

He noted that migration is a humanitarian and political issue along with its security dimension, and at the core of this issue, there is a lack of justice and empathy.

Syrian refugee crisis

Erdogan said Turkey has not turned its back on innocent people who came knocking at its door and has neither left them to the mercy of a regime that is conducting state terror against its own citizens nor to terrorist organizations such as Daesh and the PKK.

The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union, waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people.

Erdogan said Turkey has become a shelter for refugees, regardless of their ethnicity, language or religion.

Speaking on the problem of refugees, he highlighted that keeping Syrian refugees within Turkey's borders cannot be considered the only way to solve the problem of migration.

He noted that the safe zone formula he proposed at the start of the Syria crisis is the most practical method for the return of refugees, adding if Turkey cannot repatriate millions of Syrians to their homes this way, sooner or later, they will knock on European doors.

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