The Turkish government has been criticised this week for refusing to finalise an EU proposal that would see the country take on a greater commitment in preventing the movement of Syrian asylum seekers from Turkey into EU countries.
The Syrian civil war broke out in March 2011, and since then an estimated 9 million((//syrianrefugees.eu/)) Syrian refugees have sought asylum overseas. The huge influx of asylum seekers has resulted in the movement of Syrian refugees to be referred to as a ‘crisis’ in 2015.
Since March 2011, Turkey has provided over 1 million ((//syrianrefugees.eu/?page_id=80)) Syrian asylum seekers refuge within its borders. Turkey has provided a total of 22 government-run camps within its borders, as well they have allowed Syrian nationals to take up residence within the country where possible.
Yet, despite spending more than $1.5 billion to accommodate Syrian refugees since 2011, the EU is pushing for Turkish authorities to do more to prevent further movement of these refugees into neighbouring EU countries.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu has criticised the EU’s proposal and general attitude towards the crisis and is quoted in a BBC report as saying that: “They announce they’ll take in 30,000 to 40,000 refugees and then they are nominated for the Nobel for that. We are hosting two and a half million refugees but nobody cares” ((//www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34553458)).
In an effort to encourage Turkish support, the EU has offered incentives, including easier access to travel visas and the promise to ‘re-energise’ talks on the possibility of Turkey joining the EU.
According to a report by the European Commission((//ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/syria_en.pdf)), the EU has offered €4.2 billion in aid to victims of the Syrian civil war, but the report also recognises that there are as many as 12.2 million Syrian civilians in need of aid.
In terms of hosting refugees, Turkey is sheltering the greatest number of displaced persons, with an estimated 1,938 999 Syrian refugees being accomodated within Turkish borders as of September 2015((//ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/syria_en.pdf)). Meanwhile, Lebanon is hosting the second greatest number of displaced persons, with 1,113,941 refugees in Lebanon as of September 2015.
According to the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency)(( //data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/asylum.php)), there have been 507,421 Syrian asylum applications to EU countries between 2011-2015. This shows that although the current influx of Syrian nationals seeking asylum in the EU is unprecedented, it does not come close to the current pressure on those countries that are neighbouring Syria’s borders.
In terms of financial aid, the EU has offered a vast amount towards the Syrian crisis, but the fact remains that displaced Syrian persons are suffering the effects of seeking asylum, and they need safe accomodation. With that said, there are 28 countries in the EU, and all of them should accept the responsibility of not only providing financial aid to Syrian war victims, but also be prepared to open their borders to host families in need of security and safe passage.