Turkey is working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to repatriate Syrian refugees to Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.
“We are now receiving better support from the international community for the safe return and repatriation of refugees,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu’s remarks came a couple of days after the visit of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi to Turkey. Grandi met with both Çavuşoğlu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on September 8.
Responding to those remarks, UNHCR spokesperson Selin Unal said only a political solution in Syria would allow people to return, AP reported.
According to the Turkish president, Turkey is home to 5 million foreign nationals including 3.7 million Syrians who fled the civil war in the neighboring country.
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 are 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.
Hate crimes against refugees and migrants, who are blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic troubles, have been escalating in the country in recent years.
Turkish media including pro-government and opposition outlets fuel and exploit the flames of hatred against people who fled their countries and sought refuge in Turkey.
Last month anti-refugee protesters attacked houses, shops and cars owned by Syrians in Ankara’s Altındağ district following reports that a Syrian refugee stabbed two Turkish men in a fight.