International pressures elicit Turkish pushback

By: Regina Wright ~Staff Writer~

At a press conference on Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the U.N. Security Council and the international community “two-faced” for their growing pressures on Turkey to accept more Syrian refugees, while ignoring the Russian presence in Syria.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, millions have been displaced and fled their country, while hundreds of thousands have been killed.

Turkey was declared a temporary protection regime, ensuring non-refoulement and assistance in 22 refugee camps in their country and across the Syrian border.

Turkey is the country with the world’s largest refugee population, having accepted three million refugees, more than 2.6 million of whom are Syrians, since 2011.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Turkey hosted an estimated 1.8 million refugees and asylum-seekers in 2015.

A recent exodus of Syrians occurred when Russia backed the current Syrian government and performed an offensive attack near the city of Aleppo.

More refugees flee for Turkey’s border as Russian bombings continue.

However, Turkey has not accepted any new waves of refugees, only providing them with assistance in camps across the Syrian border.

On Tuesday, UNHRC requested Turkey to accept, “all civilians who are fleeing danger and seeking international protection.”

Continuing his press conference on Wednesday, Davutoglu claimed that Syrian and Russian military operations were actually tools to drive out those who did not support the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

By accepting more refugees, Davutoglu argued that Turkey would indirectly be contributing to Syria’s “ethnic cleansing.”

“With every refugee that we accept, in a way, we would be contributing to this ethnic cleansing aim,” Davutoglu said. “If this is a strategy to change the demography in Syria, then we all have to be vigilant against it.”

At a press conference in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared the ten billion dollars that Turkey has spent on assisting refugees since 2011, and the 455 million dollars UNHRC has sent to Turkey for assistance.

“What does the U.N. say? ‘Open your border to the refugees.’ What are you for then? What is your use?” Erdogan asked. “We have taken 3 million Syrians and Iraqis into our home until now. How many did you take?”

Turkey’s border has remained closed since Friday, only permitting ambulances and aid trucks to cross.