Tens of thousands of Syrians trapped on border

Having fled the conflict area around Aleppo, tens of thousands of people are still stranded on the border between Syria and Turkey. Turkey is providing them with food and tents but is not letting them enter its territory. Who is responsible for the dreadful situation on the border?

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Der Standard (AT) /

Europe must set up airlift from Aleppo

In view of the fierce fighting over Aleppo a group of European states should get together and set up an airlift in the region and bring tens of thousands of people to Europe, the centre-left daily Der Standard urges:

“Such an airlift would be a preliminary move, and would send a strong signal of good will to Turkey. It could prompt Ankara to let refugees who want to remain near their homeland cross the border. That would finally stop people from attempting the perilous journey across the Aegean to Greece, which would in turn effectively shut off the Balkan route. ... The Turks may be tough negotiating partners, but the current EU position whereby Turkey must let refugees fleeing Aleppo cross the border while stopping them from entering the EU is so hypocritical that it's not hard to understand why Turkey is not trying to stop the people smugglers and their inflatable boats.”

Sözcü (TR) /

Ankara using refugees as a shield

Turkey has set up ten camps for 100,000 refugees in the Syrian border region. This is part of a new strategy by the AKP government, the oppositional daily Sözcü comments:

“Is this a bid by Turkey to establish the buffer zone it so passionately wants but hasn't been able to achieve so far? The region where Turkey has set up the camps is under the control of jihadist groups backed by the Qatar-Saudi-Arabia-Turkey trio. These groups are praised by the international community as 'moderate forces'. But the circle is growing smaller. If Assad's troops, which are advancing northwards, reach the Turkish border, or if the predominantly Kurdish forces of the PYD-controlled Afrin district in the west expand into this region, the civilians in the camps will become an open target, or in Ankara's view a 'human shield'.”

Star (TR) /

Turkey left to cope on its own in refugee crisis

The UN Refugee Agency has called on Turkey to open its borders for refugees fleeing the fighting around Aleppo. But apart from Ankara none of the other governments in the region are being asked to help, the pro-government daily Star complains:

“Why doesn't Saudi Arabia take in some of the migrants? Does it have no room for them? Or is it poorer than Turkey? Iraq can be excluded as a helpless old man, but the same can't be said of Iran. It hasn't even occurred to anyone to ask why Iran hasn't set up any refugee camps or can't even take in some of the refugees. And Russia can hardly claim to have no space either. … The UN envoys who have made umpteen visits to the Turkish camps never tire of repeating that excellent work is being done there. In other words: Bravo, keep on doing what we should really be doing.' We'd have been better off not inviting anyone to see our camps.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Moscow forcing Syrians to flee

The mass exodus from Aleppo is the terrible consequence of the Russian airstrikes, stresses Lorenzo Cremonesi, who is currently based in the Turkish border town of Öncüpınar, in the liberal conservative daily Corriere della Sera:

“Without the support of Moscow, Iran and now the regional Shiites, Bashar al-Assad's regime would long since have fallen. Since Russia began its airstrikes, which started in September and intensified in mid-January, the tide has turned in the regime's favour. Assad is on the brink of victory. Because there is a special quality to the Russian attacks: they are directed solely against the moderate Sunni militia. The terrorist IS which Moscow used as a pretext for its military interventions has barely ever been hit. And all this happened as the UN Syria talks in Geneva began. With its words Moscow supported the peace efforts but with its deeds it has relentlessly continued the war to which refugees bear testimony. And Moscow is getting away with this strategy: the US remains impassive and Europe isn't lifting a finger.”

El Mundo (ES) /

EU can't saddle Turkey with responsibility

The EU cannot and should not rely on Turkey as a buffer zone, the conservative daily El Mundo warns:

“The Turkish military's heavy repression of the PKK militias in predominantly Kurdish regions has created an additional problem of internally displaced people fleeing the conflict zones, which is further aggravating the migratory crisis in the country. Therefore Europe must realise that it can't rely on Turkey acting like a buffer zone to keep the refugees away from our territory. Instead the EU must coordinate a joint policy by all member states. The solution can't be to shift the responsibility onto our neighbour because the majority of the refugees want to settle in Europe.”

The Times (GB) /

Turkey must open borders while EU provides financial aid

The government in Ankara and the EU both have an obligation to help the refugees escape Aleppo, the conservative daily The Times exhorts:

“The most urgent priority must be for the EU and Ankara to build on an existing €3 billion refugee assistance package to enable the opening of the border crossing point at Oncupinar, where the trapped refugees are massing. Turkish ministers said yesterday that they were not in a position to bar refugees entry, and yet they continue to do so in violation of the Geneva conventions. ... Mr Erdogan must understand his duty to the refugees. Europe must use its wealth to help him. Mr Putin must understand that he is playing with fire.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Assad's regime more murderous than IS

Europe must play the leading role in finding a lasting solution to the Syrian conflict, the centre-left daily De Morgen argues:

“Europe is better positioned than anyone else to lead the difficult peace talks on Syria. However to do that we must at least temporarily bring our obsession with the IS under control. We must understand that not the IS but the Assad regime is currently the most murderous force in Syria - and thus bears the main responsibility for the flood of refugees. European bombs on IS targets are not going to hasten the end of the war. ... Mogherini, Hollande, Merkel, and - why not - our own Belgian senior diplomats have an opportunity to put an end to Europe's prevailing defeatism and do what Europe can do best: not wage war but establish peace.”