ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey would struggle to cope with a new influx of refugees from Syria’s civil war, and many of them would likely end up trying to get into Europe, Turkey’s EU Affairs minister warned in comments published on Friday.
Turkey is already sheltering close to 2 million Syrian migrants, more than any of the war-torn country’s other neighbors, making it the world’s leading host of refugees. It now fears fighting around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo could push as many as 1 million more over its borders.
“Turkey has reached its total capacity for refugees. Now, there is talk that a new wave of refugees may emerge. That would exceed Turkey’s (capacity), and it would put the EU face to face with more migrants,” Volkan Bozkir told the newspaper Hurriyet during a trip to Brussels.
Europe is already struggling with an immigration crisis, and European states cannot agree how to cope with it. More than 135,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea in the first half of this year, and almost 2,000 have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean.
Many of them are fleeing war, repression and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. A large number are Syrians, some of whom try to cross the waters between Turkey and Greece.
Bozkir said the amount Turkey had spent on refugees - it has established a string of camps along its 900 km (560-mile) border with Syria - dwarfed the contribution from the European Union, which Turkey wants to join.
“We have spent $6 billion so far. The total amount that the EU has provided is 70 million euros and it is still just a promise, it has not yet arrived with us,” he said.
Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Larry King