Turkey cannot take on new refugee burden, FM Çavuşoğlu says

Turkey cannot take on the burden of a new migrant wave from Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday after talks with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, Turkish media reported.

“We have sufficiently carried out our moral and humanitarian responsibilities regarding migration,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that “it is out of the question for us to take on an additional refugee burden.”

Çavuşoğlu said Europe as well as regional countries would also be affected if migration from Afghanistan turns into a crisis and that lessons should be learned from the Syrian refugee crisis.

Maas promised aid for countries that border Afghanistan on Sunday. He also called for international coordination in dealing with the Taliban.

The German foreign minister was in Ankara as part of a four-day trip that includes Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Qatar.

According to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey is home to 5 million foreign nationals including 300,000 Afghans.

Turkey, which hosts some 3.7 million registered Syrian refugees, is currently faced with an increasing number of Afghans attempting to enter the country through Iran since the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital of Kabul. Between 500 and 1,000 Afghans are estimated to have arrived in Turkey each day since early July, according to Turkish media reports.

On March 18, 2016 the European Council and Turkey reached an agreement aimed at stopping the flow of irregular migration via Turkey to Europe. According to the EU-Turkey statement, all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Turkey in the Greek islands and whose applications for asylum had been declared inadmissible should be returned to Turkey. The EU pledged €3 billion in 2016-2017 and another €3 billion in 2018-2019 to Turkey as its part of the deal.

According to a survey conducted by Metropoll, 54.4 percent of Turks are against opening the border to Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban and think a possible open-door policy would have a negative effect on their support for the Turkish government.

Only 18.8 percent of respondents supported the idea of Turkey accepting new Afghan refugees.

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