Turkey, Europe

Turkish envoy calls for more int'l help with refugees

Ambassador to Paris says international community should take responsibility

26.04.2016
Turkish envoy calls for more int'l help with refugees

Ankara

PARIS

Turkey’s ambassador to France has called for more help in dealing with the refugee situation in his country.

Hakki Akil said the international community, the UN and other international institutions "have to help Turkey more".

Speaking at a dinner at the French Senate, Akil added: “Turkey has seen the refugee crisis as a humanitarian problem, not a threat, since the very beginning and the country [has] stated that the refugees should be helped.”

Since civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011, Turkey has received more than 2.7 million refugees, the largest refugee population in the world. More than 1 million others have sought refuge in Lebanon and Jordan.

Akil said Turkey has spent more than $10 billion on refugees.

The crisis saw more than 850,000 refugees cross from Turkey to the EU last year, prompting a deal for Turkey to accept returned migrants in a one-for-one exchange for Syrian refugees to be resettled in the EU.

The agreement included EU pledges to donate 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion) to aid refugees in Turkey, speed up the country’s EU accession and introduce visa-free travel for Turkish nationals.

Akil, who spoke late Monday, said the latter two clauses had already been promised to Ankara. “Visa exemption and opening new chapters for Turkey’s accession to the EU are among the steps that the EU had already promised,” he said. “The EU has not offered anything new to Turkey.”

Hailing the agreement, he said there had been a decline in the number of deaths among refugees crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece since it came into effect at the start of April.

More than 154,000 refugees have crossed the Aegean since the start of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which reported that 376 had drowned over the same period.

The IOM said an average of 1,500 refugees arrived daily in Greece at the start of the year, a figure that has dropped to 100 a day since the agreement came into force.

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