Turkey working with UN to return Syrian refugees, minister says
Turkey is working with the United Nations to re-settle Syrian refugees, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, the Associated Press reported on Sunday.
“We are now receiving better support from the international community for the safe return and repatriation of refugees,” Çavuşoğlu said in the southern Antalya province on Sunday.
Çavuşoğlu spoke following a visit to Turkey last week by Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Grandi met with both Çavuşoğlu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The meeting with Erdoğan discussed “solutions for Syrian refugees in Turkey and in the region, and on the need to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan”, Grandi said on Twitter.
UNHCR spokesperson Selin Ünal said only a political solution in Syria would allow refugees to return.
“Refugees should have the right to voluntarily return in safe and dignified conditions,” Ünal said, according to AP.
Turkey is hosting some four million refugees, mainly from Syria. It is now trying to prevent an influx of Afghan migrants hoping to cross into Europe via Turkey, after the United States pulled the last of its troops out of Afghanistan following the Taliban’s rapid takeover last month.
Erdoğan is facing growing criticism from opposition politicians on refugees. They are adopting a hard line on migration, seeking to appeal to a population who are increasingly unhappy with the presence of refugees in the country.
In 2016, Turkey and the European Union agreed on a deal that aimed to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Europe. The European bloc pledged billions of euros to Turkey to provide them with shelter.