ANKARA (AA) – The number of irregular migrants who left Turkey for Europe has reached 80,888 over the past several days, Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said.
“This number may increase in the following days,” Altun said in a series of tweets.
He said Turkey is preparing for irregular migration flow, calling on the EU and other countries to share this burden. "Turkey has been left alone in this struggle," he added.
Altun said “temporary protection” for Syrians in Turkey is continuing, adding: "None of our Syrian brothers & sisters has been asked to leave. If they choose to stay, they can. If they choose to leave, they can."
"We have modified our policy and we will not stop refugees from leaving Turkey. Given our limited resources, we are focusing on planning for contingencies in case of further inflows from Syria instead of preventing refugees who intend to migrate to Europe,” the communications director said.
Altun said following the policy change, some migrants decided to leave Turkey.
"Turkey can no longer accept additional refugees from the Idlib region in Syria but we are preparing for any irregular migration flows. Europe and others must take robust action to address this monumental challenge. We can’t be expected to do this on our own," he added.
He noted that Turkey hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees, saying: “We are proud to have spent our national resources to help our brothers and sisters thanks to the generosity of Turkish people."
Altun reminded that the deconflict zone in Idlib "aimed to prevent atrocities & massacres against 4 million civilians in this area." Turkey's goal "has been to prevent ethnic cleansing and war crimes by the Assad regime and more displacement."
The communications director said Turkey called on the U.S. and the EU to create a safe zone, but it is doing it by itself now.
"As our calls have been largely ignored and our forces targeted on the ground, we have no more patience for lack of tangible support. We can no longer accept the attitude implying migrants are our problem only," he added.
Altun said Turkey is open to serious and robust cooperation and it will do its part but others must also play their part.
He said it is simply hypocritical for other countries to criticize Turkey's refugee policies, a country hosting more than 3.7 million refugees.