Aleppo: Germany and Turkey come up with a 10-point action plan

Aleppo: Germany and Turkey come up with a 10-point action plan
By Euronews  with AFP, Reuters, AP, The UK Observer, Sabah Times, the UK Financial Times.

Ankara caught between humanitarian need and political will

No Syrian will be without shelter, security or food

  • Merkel meets Davotoglu and Erdogan in Ankara
  • Refugee talks given added impetus by Aleppo offensive
  • Ankara says it may need more money to cope

What is happening?

Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu say they have put together an action plan to deal with the migrant crisis.

Germany’s Chancellor is in Turkey for talks on managing the ongoing refugee crisis.

Last week’s offensive in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, has given fresh impetus to calls for solutions to the crisis to be found.

The plan – made up of ten related topics, will be implemented in the coming days and weeks.

It includes UN-level negotiations with Russia about its military action in Syria, the deployment of humanitarian aid from Germany to the Syrian border and a boost in support for the EU border agency Frontex.

Merkel and Davotoglu also stressed the need to bring an end to human trafficking, to establish a legal framework for migration and to set up a system to fairly distribute arriving refugees among EU member states.

35,000 displaced Syrians from the Aleppo area are said to have gathered at the nearby border with Turkey, fleeing the fighting and hoping to cross.

Ankara, however, finds itself caught between humanitarian need and political will.

It received three billion euros from the EU in November to help manage the influx of refugees, the majority of whom travel on to the main countries of Western Europe.

Politicians there are trying to manage the flow, saying it puts pressure on services and societies.

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”:
  • 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

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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