Middle East

Turkey asks Europe for help with Syrian refugees

FILE - Turkish European Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis. (AFP PHOTO / ERIC PIERMONT)

BERLIN: Turkey's Europe minister Monday called on Europe to do more to help his country tackle the more than 100,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, accusing the bloc of being fixated on its debt crisis.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, Egemen Bagis said: "Europe should start thinking about the people who have fled Syria into Turkey."

"Europe is in a state of paralysis. There is no progress because it is completely fixated on the euro crisis," he added, referring to the three-year financial difficulties that have plunged many eurozone countries into recession.

The Turkish disaster agency AFAD said on Monday that the number of Syrians fleeing the conflict in their homeland and seeking refuge in Turkey has now reached 100,363.

Bagis spoke as EU finance ministers met in Luxembourg to ramp up pressure on Syria and also Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.

In September, the European Commission announced an additional 50 million euros ($65 million) in humanitarian aid to help civilians caught up in the violence.

That brought the total available from the Commission to 119 million euros and the EU's contribution in all to 200 million euros, or half of all international help offered at that point.

But Bagis demanded more, telling Die Welt: "Europe has to help people who need a safe haven. It's time for Europe to finally help out."

The United Nations estimates that more than 2.5 million people have been affected by the fighting. There are more than 348,000 Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries, but many more are unregistered.





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