Erdogan: International bodies break promise on refugees

While neither the EU nor the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have fulfilled their promises to help refugees, Turkey is continuing to host around three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees and has so far spent $26 billion, Turkish president said Thursday.

"Whether they give [money] or not, we will continue to host these people who have fled from guns and barrel bombs," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the fourth International Ombudsman Symposium at the presidential complex in Ankara.

Erdogan was specifically referring to the EU's commitment to Turkey over a refugee deal signed in March 2016, which aims to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal included a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country. However, Turkey has so far received only 677 million euros ($716 million).

According to the latest UNHCR official data, the agency requested in 2016 $842.9 million from contributor countries, however received only $557.4 million.

Erdogan said the migration and refugee problem could not be overcome "without sacrifices, burden sharing, and changing the system of bloody exploitation in place".

"It is clear what needs to be done to prevent the Mediterranean Sea from turning into a big cemetery that swallows the bodies of tens of thousands of refugees," he said.

Erdogan also commented on the recent terror attacks across the world, saying no place including Turkey could be safe unless the conflicts in Syria and Iraq came to a halt.

"The painful incidents that we have experienced in recent years have shown that Antep, Brussels and Berlin cannot be at peace while Aleppo, Baghdad and Mosul are burning."

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

*Reporting by Baris Gundogan; Writing by Hatice Kesgin

Source: Anadolu Agency