Deputy PM Kurtulmuş: Turkey should be prepared for 100,000 refugees

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 15.06.2015 11:35
Updated 15.06.2015 21:56
A man carries a girl as Syrians fleeing the war pass through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory illegally, near the Turkish Akcakale border crossing in the southeastern Sanliurfa province, on June 14, 2015 (AFP Photo)
A man carries a girl as Syrians fleeing the war pass through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory illegally, near the Turkish Akcakale border crossing in the southeastern Sanliurfa province, on June 14, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said on Monday that Turkey should be prepared for an influx of at least 100,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the battle between Kurdish fighters and the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), in the case that Turkey accepts a new wave of refugees from Tal Abyad.

Kurtulmuş stated that the U.S.-led coalition forces had been striking the Turkish-Syrian border since May 14, claiming that ISIS has seized the border town of Tel Abyad, while the people are stuck between the ISIS and Syrian Kurdish PYD forces.

"We are of the opinion that there is a humanitarian crisis in Tal Abyad, similar to the one in Kobani and other regions in Syria," Kurtulmuş said, adding that the Turkish government prioritizes keeping the refugees in their own borders and transferring aid and medical supplies to where they are located.

After Turkish authorities reopened the border after a few days of closure on Sunday, Syrian refugees fleeing clashes in Syria's Tal Abyad town started pouring into Turkey's Şanlıurfa province through the Akçakale crossing.

ISIS fighters, who have the control of Tal Abyad, impeded the refugees from crossing onto the other side of the border and asked people to go back to the city center of Tal Abyad. According to Doğan News Agency, five people trying to sneak into Turkey on Monday have been detained by Turkish security forces, and were later found out to be ISIS militants fleeing Tel Abyad.

Fighting between YPG militia and ISIS militants near the Turkish border has already forced 19,445 people to cross into Turkey from Syria since 3 June, according to a statement released by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey ('AFAD' in Turkish) on Monday.

The officials have confirmed that a total of 2,800 Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey on Sunday, and a further 1,601 have been accepted on Monday into Turkey, according to AFAD's statement. Turkey has taken in 1.8 million Syrian refugees since the conflict in Syria erupted in 2011.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç held a press meeting on Monday, touching upon the issue of the recent influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey. He said, although there are currently 1.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, and Turkey cannot close its borders for those who ask for help, it cannot continue to host further thousands of refugees in the long-run. He said, Turkey has accepted 16-17,000 Syrian refugees in the last few days and since it cannot bear the burden by itself, the Western countries should also shoulder some responsibility. This is why, Arınç said, Turkey has recently sent detailed letters explaining the current situation on Syria and refugees to the UN, UNHCR, EU Commission and Parliament, G7 foreign ministers, and NATO.

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