As tens of thousands of people flee to the Turkish border amid the renewed bombardment Idlib province by Russian and Syrian forces, Turkey has warned that it would not be able to handle a “new refugee wave” coming from Syria.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan on Sunday warned that Europe would feel the impact of the new influx of migrants if the violence in northwest Syria isn’t quickly ended, Deutsche Welle reports.
Currently, Turkey hosts nearly 3.7 million Syrian refugees – the largest refugee population in the world. The country worries that a new wave of refugees from the Idlib province – a region that’s home to 3 million Syrians – could prove to be too much for Turkey to handle alone.
While speaking at an awards ceremony in Istanbul on Sunday evening, Erdogan said: “If the violence towards the people of Idlib does not stop, this number will increase even more. In that case, Turkey will not carry such a migrant burden on its own.”
The Turkish leader added that over 80,000 people were currently headed toward the Turkish border from Idlib.
“The negative impact of the pressure we will be subjected to will be something that all European nations, especially Greece, will also feel,” Erdogan said, adding that another migrant crisis like the one seen in 2015 would become inevitable.
“We call on European countries to use their energy to stop the massacre in Idlib, rather than trying to corner Turkey for the legitimate steps it took in Syria,” Erdogan said.
Last fall, Erdogan and top Turkish officials threatened to “open the gates” and let 3.6 million migrants flood into Europe unless European countries provided more support to Turkey.
In August, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu was quoted as saying, “We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history. If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience.”