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UN urges more support for Turkey on Syrian refugees

February 28, 2020 at 11:00 pm

Syrian refugees with their belongings pass through Oncupinar border gate to reach their hometowns before Eid al-Adha in Kilis, Turkey on August 29, 2017 [Ensar Özdemir / Anadolu Agency]

The UN on Friday urged the international community to step up support for Turkey in managing and hosting Syrian refugees, Anadolu Agency reports.

Babar Baloch, a spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency, at a news briefing in Geneva said: “We have been appealing to neighbouring countries including Turkey to broaden admission for people who are on the run inside Syria.

“But let us not forget that Turkey hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees so the call goes broader to the international community as well that support to Turkey must be sustained and stepped up.”

Turkish officials said earlier on Friday they would no longer try to stop irregular migrants from reaching Europe, as incessant bombings by the Syrian regime and its allies on the Idlib de-escalation zone has resulted in a fresh wave of migrants moving toward Turkey’s borders.

Turkey, which hosts more Syrian refugees than any country in the world, says it cannot absorb another refugee wave.

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Baloch, however, said they have not received an official notification.

At the same news briefing, Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said they were continuing humanitarian operations despite media reports that claimed Turkey had closed its border to refugees.

We have had no official communication from the Turkish government about any change as of now, so the cross-border operation does continue,” he said.

Laerke said that in the first two months of this year, “we have more than 2,000 trucks crossing that border and that operation continues.

The situation continues from a trajectory in December and continues to where we now have 950,000 displacements in absolutely horrifying conditions.”

Idlib, near Turkey’s southern border, falls within a de-escalation zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in late 2018. The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

The de-escalation zone is currently home to about 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.

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