Ankara (Turkey) (AFP) – Around 30,000 Syrians are at the Turkish border after fleeing a Russia-backed regime offensive on the northern region of Aleppo, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
With his country facing mounting pressure to open its border, Davutoglu said the refugees would be admitted if need be, although Turkey should not be expected “to shoulder the refugee issue alone.”
“Around 30,000 Syrians have now massed,” the border with northwestern Syria which remains closed, he told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Davutoglu, whose country is hosting 2.7 million Syrian refugees, said Turkey would take refugees “if necessary.”
“Obviously, as always, we will provide for our Syrian brothers and accept them when necessary,” he said.
But he warned: “No one should assume that just because Turkey is taking in all the refugees that it should be expected to shoulder the refugee issue alone.”
Merkel’s visit is aimed at pressing Turkey to make good on pledges to do more to reduce the influx of refugees to Europe.
It came as 33 people died off Turkey’s coast attempting to reach Greece in two separate tragedies on Tuesday.
The Turkish government struck a deal with the EU in November to halt the outflow of refugees, in return for three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in financial assistance.
The EU on Wednesday finally reached an agreement on how to finance the deal.
But the deal and the onset of winter do not appear to have deterred the migrants, with boats still arriving on the Greek islands daily.
Davutoglu said Turkey and Germany would “cooperate better” to make EU’s border agency Frontex more efficient.