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Turkey must keep border open to Syrian refugees: EU

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
EU Enlargement and Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn © AFP

The European Union (EU) has called on Turkey to fulfill its international obligations to keep its frontiers open to the Syrian refugees who are fleeing the nearly five-year foreign-backed militancy in their country.

“The Geneva convention is still valid which states that you have to take in refugees,” EU Enlargement and Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn said on Saturday.

Hahn made the remarks as he was going to attend an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers and their counterparts from countries seeking the bloc’s membership, including Turkey, in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, on Europe’s refugee crisis.

Turkey is the main route for refugees fleeing wars in the Middle East and North Africa to reach Europe.

The United Nations estimates that up to 20,000 people displaced by military operations around the Syrian northwestern city of Aleppo have gathered at the Bab al-Salam border crossing with Turkey.

Aleppo is the second Syrian city in a province bordering Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a televised speech on Friday that some 15,000 Syrians fleeing Aleppo have reached Turkey's borders, adding that tens of thousands more could also be on the way.

Davutoglu promised that Turkey would not leave the displaced “without food or shelter” but did not indicate whether the country intended to let them in.

Europe has been facing an unprecedented inflow of refugees fleeing war and violence in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.

An internally displaced Syrian woman carries her belongings as she arrives at a refugee camp near the Bab al-Salam crossing, opposite the Turkey's Kilis Province, on the outskirts of the northern border town of Azaz, Syria, February 6, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Over a million refugees entered the 28-nation bloc last year through Turkey and Greece and then made their way through the Balkans to Germany and other northern member states.

Damascus says foreign support for terrorists wreaking havoc in the country is to blame for the outflow of Syrians.

European governments have not yet come up with a viable means of tackling the massive inflow. Some European countries have urged the closure of their borders while others have called for open arms for the refugees.

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