Tens of thousands of Ukrainians seek refuge in Turkey after Russia’s invasion
More than 68,000 Ukrainians have taken refuge in Turkey following Russia’s invasion, said an official from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday.
UNHCR Turkey representative Philippe Leclerc said the agency was dealing with an “ever-rising number of refugees” as part of this “fast tragedy”, reported Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.
The UN official told Turkish media that Ankara’s approach to Ukrainians would match their policy towards Syrians, enabling those fleeing wars to "access services and learn skills to become self-reliant”.
Leclerc said: “This is the policy the Turkish government has been following for more than 11 years for up to 3.8 million Syrians who live in the 81 provinces of Turkey.”
However, Syrians have faced increasing discrimination in Turkey, with some being arbitrarily deported to their home country.
Turkey hosts the largest numbers of refugees worldwide, including millions of people who fled the brutal 11-year conflict in Syria. There are also close to 320,000 people from other nationalities.
Leclerc stressed that cooperation between Ankara and the UN refugee agency was “very important” given the continued instability in Syria.
The Turkish government has been carrying out some activities that the agency was doing in the past, such as the registration of refugees, the UN official said as quoted by Anadolu.
After Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will not force refugees back to their warn-torn homelands.
"We will not send (them) back. We will continue to host (them). We are not worried about it," he said regarding the refugees that Turkey hosts, mainly from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan but more recently, Ukraine.
Turkey has so far taken a neutral stance on the invasion of Ukraine, maintaining ties with both Moscow and Kyiv and positioning itself as a mediator in peace talks.
Alongside tens of thousands of Ukrainians, some 14,000 Russians are estimated to have fled to Turkey during the war, according to The Economist. Most are young professionals, including lawyers, bankers, and journalists.