Turkey Withholds Syrian Refugees as Space Dwindles
Turkey has withheld some 9000 people fleeing conflict in Syria have been temporarily as it struggles to cope with the growing refugee populations. A Turkish official told Rueters, “We have run out of space to house these people. We are working to make shelters and when these are completed we will allow these people across.” The official said he hoped the refugees would be allowed to cross later, while refugees were given food and humanitarian aid through the fence that marks the Turkish-Syrian border.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey could run out of space if refugee numbers topped 100,000, and suggested that the UN may need to create a “safe zone” inside Syria. Davutoglu also raised concerns over the financial burden that refugee efforts has placed on the country. “On the one hand, for the sake of our brotherhood with the Syrians we want to carry out our humanitarian duty, but there is a burden brought about by the numbers. This burden must be shared by the international community,” Davutoglu said.
Meanwhile, Turkey announced that it will not attend the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) taking place in Iran. President Abdullah Gul days he has no plans to attend the summit despite an invitation from his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A Turkish official noted that Turkey had not planned to attend the event as Turkey is not a member of the movement, which comprises 120 countries.