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Aleppo: Germany and Turkey call on NATO for help with refugees

08/02 19:06 CET

Aleppo: Germany and Turkey call on NATO for help with refugees
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  • Merkel, Davotoglu call on NATO
  • Both criticise Russian involvement
  • 10-point plan to tackle crisis

NATO involvement

Turkey and Germany plan to seek help from NATO allies in monitoring the flow of migrants trying to get to Europe from Syria via Turkey and the Aegean Sea.

Angela Merkel and Ahmet Davotoglu said the matter would be officially and jointly raised at a meeting of NATO defence ministers on Thursday.

“Turkey and Germany will present to NATO, as an agenda item, that NATO should step in regarding the results of the refugee flow from Syria. In particular, we will make a common effort so that NATO’s monitoring mechanisms should be used effectively on the border and in the Aegean (sea),” Davutoglu told reporters.

Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert said on Twitter that support for the Turkish coast guard and the EU’s Frontex border agency will be discussed at a “NATO level.”

There has been no response from NATO so far.

The German Chancellor called for immediate action from Ankara to improve the refugee situation in Turkey.

Once again, Angela Merkel said refugees must be distributed fairly and evenly across the EU.

“What is, of course, important, not just for Turkey but for all of us, is that if we want to stop illegal immigration we obviously have to be ready to some extent to accept refugees by legal means, especially Syrian refugees”.

Russia criticised

The German Chancellor also said the nature of Russian military action in Syria means Moscow is in violation of the UN resolution it signed in December.

Angela Merkel says she has been “appalled and shocked” by the suffering in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Merkel blamed this on Russian bombing raids in support of the Assad government.

“In the resolution, the Security Council demands that all sides stop attacks on civilians and civilian targets without delay, in particular the use of indiscriminate weapons such as bomb attacks from the air. It is very specific in the resolution”, she said.

Berlin and Turkey plan to convene UN-level talks about Russia’s intervention in Syria.

Turkey’s challenge in numbers

  • 2.5 million – the number of refugees Turkey is already hosting
  • 1.1 million – the number of refugees hosted by Germany in 2015 (“more”: https://www.iom.int/)
  • 35,000 – the number displaced from Aleppo now gathered on the Turkish border
  • 100,000 – the potential number politicians say could arrive
  • 3.3 bn USD – crisis money Turkey received in November from the EU
  • 10 bn USD – what Turkey says it has spent so far
  • 20 bn USD – what Turkey says it might need

Turkey is facing pressure from the EU and humanitarian agencies to open its border near Aleppo.

Ankara says it is at the limit of what it can cope with, but will not turn those in need away.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davotoglu spoke frankly at the Syrian Donors Conference in London on 4.2.11 about the situation precipitated by the Aleppo offensive.

“No Syrian will be without shelter, security or food in Turkey. We will continue to provide support for the refugees.”, he said.

Why is Aleppo so significant?

  • it was the largest city in Syria before the conflict broke out.
  • an industrial and cultural hub with a rich history.
  • opposition stronghold since the start of the conflict
  • Experts say taking Aleppo would have strong strategic and symbolic value.

Does this mean the Syrian government has won the conflict?

  • No. Thousands of opposition fighters are flocking to Aleppo to defend it.
  • Many other areas of the country remain under rebel control.
  • However, experts agree Russian military involvement on behalf of the government has shifted the balance of power in the conflict.

What about the Geneva peace talks?

UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva were suspended last week after Russian military aircraft pounded Aleppo. They are set to resume on 25 February but two factors are leading to doubt:

  • Increasing military gains mean the government has little incentive to come to the table.
  • Opposition leaders say the government has acted in bad faith.

What impact is this likely to have on the refugee situation?

  • The concern is this will be significant
  • An estimated 100,000 people from the Aleppo area have gathered at the nearby border with Turkey.
  • Ankara has closed its border.
  • Political pressure may force this to change, for example if conditions deteriorate.

(Source: The Observer, 7.2.2016
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/06/aleppo-under-bombar
dment-fears-siege-and-starvation)

In pictures

What they are saying

“Turkey has spent ten billion dollars for refugees in the camps alone and will continue to keep its doors open to everyone fleeing oppression, regardless of their ethnic, religious or sectarian background.”Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davotoglu, speaking at Syrian donors conference in London 4.2.16)

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