Turkey and Germany agree on plan to ease refugee crisis


Source: Aljazeera

Turkey and Germany have agreed on a set of measures to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, including a joint diplomatic initiative aiming to halt attacks against Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

Officials from the two countries announced on Monday in Ankara they would also push to curb what they called illegal migration.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in the Turkish capital for talks on how to reduce the influx of refugees into Europe, said after discussions with Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s prime minister, that she was “not just appalled but horrified” by the suffering caused by Russian bombing in Syria.

Merkel said Turkey and Germany will push at the UN for everyone to keep to a UN resolution passed in December that calls on all sides to halt without delay attacks on the civilian population.

“We have been, in the past few days, not just appalled but horrified by what has been caused in the way of human suffering for tens of thousands of people by bombing – primarily from the Russian side,” she said.

“Under such circumstances, it’s hard for peace talks to take place, and so this situation must be brought to an end quickly.”

Davutoglu, for his part, said the city of Aleppo was “de facto under siege. We are on the verge of a new human tragedy.”

“Russians are carpet-bombing – they want to clean the entire region so as to make sure the Damascus [Syrian] army will take over and push on to the Turkish border,” Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist with the Istanbul Policy Centre, told Al Jazeera.

“This will make the lives of refugees more difficult.”

Thousands stranded

The Germany-Turkey talks come as tens of thousands of Syrians remain stranded at the border with Turkey after fleeing a Russia-backed government offensive in Aleppo.

Turkey is facing pressure from the EU to open its border to up to 35,000 Syrians who have massed along the frontier in the past few days fleeing an onslaught by government forces.

The discussions also came as reports emerged that at least 33 people died off Turkey’s coast as they tried to reach Greece.

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