Turkey letting in Syrian refugees in ‘controlled fashion’

Five-year old Sheima, who lost both eyes when hit by a stray bullet in Syria, sits on her hospital bed in a small clinic near the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern city of Kilis. (Reuters)

Turkey is admitting Syrian refugees in a “controlled manner” and has let in thousands fleeing Russian air strikes, its foreign minister said on Tuesday, warning the numbers of new migrants could reach a million if the attacks continue.

An assault by Russian-backed Syrian government forces around the city of Aleppo has sent more than 30,000 people fleeing to the Turkish border gate of Oncupinar in the past few days, and officials say tens of thousands more could be on the move.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey had so far let in 10,000 people from the latest wave, but it was not immediately clear where on the border he was referring to.

Oncupinar has remained closed in recent days to all but the most seriously wounded, some of them crossing by foot or brought in by ambulance, according to Reuters witnesses.

The United Nations and European Union have urged it to open the crossing.

“Recently more than 50,000 people came to the border with Turkey due to Russia’s air attacks. We took in 10,000 of these migrants and we are building some camps at the other side of the border for some,” Cavusoglu said during a visit to Budapest.

“We are allowing in those who want to come, in a controlled fashion,” he told a news conference with his Hungarian counterpart.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50