Turkey cannot handle new migrant wave from Syria, Erdogan says

Mon 23 Dec 2019 09:06 GMT | 13:06 Local Time

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Turkey cannot handle a fresh migrant wave from Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday, Daily Sabah reported.

He added that European nations will feel the impact of the influx if violence in Syria's Idlib region continued.

Speaking at an awards ceremony in Istanbul, Erdogan said more than 80,000 people were currently on the move from Idlib toward Turkey due to Russian and regime bombardments in the region.

If the flow increased, "Turkey will not carry this migration burden alone", he added.

"The negative effects of this pressure on us will be an issue felt by all European countries, especially Greece," he warned.

He said Europe would inevitably see conditions like the 2015 migrant crisis unless it helped stop violence in the region.

Erdogan added Turkey was doing everything possible with Russia to stop bombardments in Idlib. He said a Turkish delegation will travel to Moscow on Monday to hold talks on Syria and Turkey will determine its steps after the talks.

Syrian regime attacks on civilians and residential areas within Idlib's de-escalation zone is causing a new humanitarian catastrophe, forcing civilians to flee their homes toward safer areas near the Turkish border.

Some 12,000 civilians are headed toward the Turkish border after forces loyal to the Russia-backed Bashar Assad regime intensified attacks on the de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria's Idlib.

The Syrian Civil War, which broke out in 2011, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced more than 5 million people to flee the country, while more than 7 million are internally displaced.

Refugees mainly took shelter in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, with Turkey hosting the largest number of refugees. Some have sought to reach Europe via the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, but hundreds died en route to Greece and other coastal countries.

According to Interior Ministry figures, the number of refugees was 4.2 million in 2017 and has now reached 4.9 million. While 3.6 million Syrians are living in Turkey, more than 415,000 Syrian children have been born in Turkey since the start of the civil war in 2011.

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