US says Turkey needs urgent help on Syrian refugees
The US has said Turkey, along with Jordan, needs urgent help in providing humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees it is hosting.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a daily briefing on Monday that the US is one of the biggest donors to the UN appeal to provide humanitarian assistance for war-torn Syrians, and is helping further inside Syria and in neighboring countries.
“We are also working with all of our partners around the world to encourage them to help fill the remaining unfilled portions of the UN's appeal, the Syria portion and the portion in neighboring countries. Particularly in Turkey and Jordan, the need is urgent now,” she said.
Nuland's remarks came hours after Turkey announced that the number of Syrian refugees housed in camps in southern Turkey has exceeded 100,000, a level beyond which Ankara had previously said it would struggle to accommodate more.
Nulan was also asked about the mutual decisions by Syria and Turkey to each close their airspace to the other country's aircraft in the wake of Turkey's grounding of a Syrian jet in Ankara on suspicion that it was carrying military equipment from Moscow to Syria. Nuland said the US “certainly supports the decision that Turkey has made in light of the apparent violation of their airspace by this aircraft.”
She noted that it is not surprising that the Syrian side took countermeasures.
Stating that the US is encouraging all of Syria's neighbors to be vigilant with regard to how their airspace is used, Nuland underlined that Turkey “has been open to granting humanitarian exceptions,” referring to an Aleppo-bound Armenian plane which was allowed to continue its journey after a search in Turkey confirmed that it was carrying only humanitarian aid to Syria. “So the Turks, from our perspective, are taking a measured and appropriate posture with regard to these things,” she said.
Turkey grounded an Armenian plane flying to the Syrian city of Aleppo and searched its cargo on Monday, in the latest move to prevent its airspace from being used to supply the Syrian military.
The plane was allowed to continue on its way after the search in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum confirmed it was carrying humanitarian aid as stated by Armenian officials.