Ankara says in talks with U.N. over return of Syrian refugees

Ankara is working with the U.N.'s refugee agency to repatriate Syrians to their home country, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday, contradicting the UNHCR's overall policy on the matter.

''We are now receiving better support from the international community for the safe return and repatriation of refugees,'' BBC Turkish cited Çavuşoğlu as saying while speaking at a ceremony in the southern province of Antalya. ''We are working to repatriate refugees, especially in Syria, especially with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.''

Turkey is home to the largest number of Syrian refugees - some 3.7 million - who began arriving shortly after the civil war broke out in the neighbouring country in 2011.

The UNHCR designates Syria as a country too dangerous to send refugees back to.

Çavuşoğlu called on the international community to work together to resolve migration.

''It's not right to look at this from a security standpoint,'' he said. ''It's wrong to look at it in a racist and fascist way. On the other hand, if it is a social problem, it is necessary to evaluate it calmly together and find a solution by producing new policies.''

The Turkish official's remarks arrive amid increasing criticism over government policies on refugees. A years-long “open borders” policy by Ankara has led to an extreme anti-immigrant climate against the millions of Syrians in the country.

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