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Turkey, EU should open borders to Syrian refugees: MSF

2 June 2016 17:18



The international aid organization Doctors Without Borders has called on Turkey and the European Union states to open their frontiers to displaced Syrians fleeing fighting in the violence-stricken country.

The non-governmental medical charity, known by its French acronym MSF, made the plea in a statement published on Thursday.

MSF Middle East operations manager, Pablo Marco, expressed concern about the situation of some 100,000 people trapped in Syria’s northwestern city of A’zaz between the frontline with the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and the Turkish border.

“After countless displacements from military offensives, there is no place left for these people to escape to,” Marco said.

Turkey is already hosting almost 3 million Syrian refugees, Marco said, but urged the Ankara government to open its border to those trapped in A’zaz.

Those holed up in A’zaz, located north of the city of Aleppo, are unable to flee while Turkey’s border remains closed and exit roads have been blocked.

Elsewhere in his comments, the MSF official criticized as embarrassing the EU decision to close its doors to Syrian refugees, saying the move is not only an abdication of the bloc’s responsibility to assist but it is also discouraging Turkey from receiving new arrivals.

“Instead of fixating on how to stop refugees from reaching Europe, the EU must work with Turkey to speed up the process of granting asylum to Syrian refugees in Europe, starting with those from A’zaz,” Marco said.

 Refugees arrive at the Bab al-Salama refugee camp, near A’zaz, Syria, next to the Turkish crossing gate, February 6, 2016. © AFP

The EU and Turkey signed a deal on refugees in March. Based on the deal, boat refugees arriving on European soil via the Aegean Sea may be sent back to Turkey. For each refugee returned, the EU will take one Syrian refugee currently living in Turkey. In return, the EU has made several commitments to Ankara, including financial aid, visa-free travel to the bloc for Turks, and progress in negotiations on its membership to the bloc.

Meanwhile, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia – three of the countries that lie between Greece and the preferred refugee destinations in northern Europe – have announced that their borders are now closed. A large number of asylum-seekers and refugees have used this main route to northern Europe to reach countries such as Germany since it became popular last summer.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Damascus regards Turkey as one of the main supporters of the militants fighting the government forces in the Arab country.

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