Turkish President Erdoğan calls for resettlement of 1M refugees in northern Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said that the resettlement of 1 million Syrian refugees into the “peace zone” that the Turkish military drove Kurdish forces out of in October should happen in “a very short period of time.”
“We need to find a formula that will allow the refugees to remain in their homelands and the ones who have already traveled to Turkey to be peacefully returned and resettled in their homelands,” he told the Global Forum on Refugees in Geneva on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Turkey is currently hosting 3.7 million Syrian refugees, the largest refugee population in the world.
Over 370,000 Syrian refugees have already returned to the “peace zone,” a stretch of land in Northern Syria that Erdoğan reestablished after his military forced Kurdish forces to vacate the area. Erdoğan said that an additional 600,000 Syrian refugees still in Turkey should voluntarily follow suit.
The Turkish leader called out the European Union, which pledged 6 billion euros ($6.61 billion) to Turkey but has only given the country about half of that.
“We are still waiting at the threshold of receiving the other 3 billion euros that was pledged,” Erdoğan said.
With the money, Erdoğan added, housing and schools could be set up in the “peace zone,” which would speed up the resettlement.
“If we can implement the projects that I have talked about at the General Assembly of the United Nations I think the resettlement can easily reach 1 million in a very short period of time,” he noted.
Erdoğan also took a shot at the U.S., saying that Washington had put in more effort to protect Syria’s oil fields than its people.
After President Trump made a sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria’s northeastern border in October — which subsequently led to Erdoğan’s military offensive against Kurdish forces — he quickly reinstated troops in the lower regions of Syria to protect the country’s vast oil fields.