UN Calls On World to Help Turkey with Refugee Crisis
Nearly 140,000 Syrian refugees who arrived in Turkey over the weekend represents the number that all Europe has taken in the three years of Syrian civil war, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR said Tuesday, calling for more support for Ankara in its efforts to tackle the exodus.
The refugees, mainly Syrian Kurds, were fleeing to Turkey after the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, took over villages around the northern Syrian town of Kobani over the weekend.
UNHCR chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said that the Turkish government together with UNHCR are preparing for the possibility that all inhabitants of Kobani, with a population of 400,000 might flee.
“We do not know if all of these people will flee but we are preparing for that contingency,” she said.
Fleming said the situation at the Turkish-Syrian border was stable as of Tuesday morning.
“There were not big lines of people on the other side (Syrian side at the border) and civilians in need of international protection were let in to Turkey.”
Turkish authorities are now managing the entry of refugees through two border points in three phases: security checks in order to maintain the civilian character of asylum; health checks, including measles and polio vaccination for very young children; and registration, Fleming said.
Fleming said the UNHCR called on the world to recognize that Turkey has taken in 1.5 million Syrians.
She added that not enough has been done to help Turkey and other neighboring countries.
“The international community needs to do more to help Turkey,” she said.
Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights, also said that more than 100 villages in the Kobani region were captured by ISIL.
Colville warned that there is a severe water shortage in the region and “Kobani’s main supply of water came from wells in the towns of Oukhan, Qula and Quneitra, all of which are now under ISIL control.”
“Our biggest worry would be if Kobani itself fell,” Colville added.