Syria blames Turkey for pushing refugees to Europe
A senior Syrian official has blamed Turkey for the flood of Syrian refugees heading toward Europe amid growing concerns over the failure of the international community to do enough to protect stranded Syrian asylum-seekers.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad said Thursday that Turkey has been encouraging the Syrians on its soil to seek refuge in Europe despite claims by Ankara that it is bearing the huge costs of Syrian refugees.
“The…issue, some people may not be aware is that the Turkish government which declares to have a lot of these refugees is itself encouraging those refugees to go to Western Europe,” Miqdad said during a joint briefing to reporters with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Damascus.
The senior diplomat said, however, that Syria is doing its best to urge Syrians not to leave the country.
“Under the present circumstances the best thing we can do is to encourage Syrians to stay here,” Miqdad said, adding, “We are calling on all Syrians to come back to their country because this is their rightful place of existence.”
The comments came a few hours after the United Nations denounced the international community for its failure to protect Syrians fleeing war at home.
Urgent action needed
A 24-page report by the UN Commission of Inquiry released Thursday called for “urgent action” by the international community to protect civilians fleeing the ongoing crisis in Syria.
The commission stated that the responsibility to protect Syrian refugees “is not being adequately shared or shouldered.”
“The global failure to protect Syrian refugees is now translating into a crisis in southern Europe,” the report said.
The commission’s chief chair, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, said civilians have been bearing the brunt of the ongoing militancy and crisis in Syria. “Civilians are suffering the unimaginable as the world stands witness.”
The report is to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on September 21.
According to the report, more than 2,000 Syrians have also drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe since 2011. The figures are based on 335 interviews with witnesses and victims and collected from January to July 2015.
In the latest shocking sign of the migrants’ plight, a three-year-old Syrian boy, identified as Aylan Kurdi, was among 13 Syrian people, including his five-year-old brother, who drowned and were washed up on a beach near the resort town of Bodrum, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of the city of Antalya, on Turkey’s idyllic ‘Turquoise Coast’ on Wednesday.
Hundreds of ill-fated Syrians, fleeing the violence perpetrated by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group and trying to seek refuge on the Greek soil, have lost their lives during unfortunate boat travels where the vessels overturned.
The UN report also highlights abuses being committed by militant groups such as Daesh and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front that are wreaking havoc across Syria. It also said militants have adopted new tactics such as hit-and-run attacks and car bombings following recent battlefield losses to Kurdish fighters in Syria.
The report says the militant groups used tactics like encircling populated areas, which has caused malnutrition, starvation and chronic illness among the besieged residents.
The UN says the militancy in Syria has internally displaced more than 7.6 million people, and compelled over four million others to take refuge in neighboring countries, including Jordan and Lebanon.