Turkey won’t close borders, expects 70,000 refugees

Internally displaced Syrian boys sit in the back of a truck in front of a refugee camp near the Bab al-Salam crossing. (Reuters)

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday that his country will not close its border with Syria and expects a possibility of 70,000 refugees amassing at the gates.

On Monday, at least 30,000 Syrians were at the Turkish border after fleeing a Russia-backed regime offensive on the northern region of Aleppo, Davutoglu said.

With his country facing mounting pressure to open its border, Davutoglu said the refugees would be admitted if need be, although Turkey should not be expected "to shoulder the refugee issue alone."

"Around 30,000 Syrians have now massed," the border with northwestern Syria which remains closed, he told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

U.N. urges Turkey to open borders to Syrians

Meanwhile, the United Nations called on Turkey on Tuesday to open its borders to thousands of desperate Syrian refugees fleeing Aleppo, in line with its international obligations to protect people fleeing conflict or persecution.

William Spindler, spokesman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the agency understood the concern of Turkish authorities about “possible large influxes” into the country, already hosting more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees.

“Turkey has also allowed a number of vulnerable and wounded people in Turkey. However, many people are not being allowed to cross the border. We are asking Turkey to open its border to all civilians in Syria fleeing danger in need of international protection as they have done,” Spindler told a news briefing.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47