UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged the international community on Monday to step up efforts to address the refugee crisis which has uprooted thousands from their homes and forced them to flee to surrounding countries and Europe.
Davutoglu, speaking with journalists at the U.N. on Monday, said that the only way to prevent new waves of refugees flowing from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya is to stop atrocities committed by the Syrian regime and the Islamic State group and to create safe areas for Syrians within their country.
"The refugee issue was seen by the international community at first as if it's a Syrian issue, later it was seen as a Turkish or neighboring countries' crisis, but now it is clear that the refugee issue is a global crisis, a crisis which we cannot ignore, which we cannot forget."
Of the 1.9 million Syrians who have fled to Turkey, only about 300,000 are in refugee camps, while the vast majority has taken up life in towns and cities along the border. Turkey this year began stopping cargo ships from taking Syrians and others to Italy. The Turkish action drove those migrants to try the shorter but dangerous Aegean Sea crossing to Greece.
Decrying what he sees as the "minimal" engagement of the international community in tackling the issue, he expressed hope that "after this U.N. General Assembly's meetings, there will be more awareness and the international community will be more effective on this matter."
The prime minister laid heavy blame on Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has used barrel bombs and chemical weapons against civilians.