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Turkish Foreign Minister says his country is working with the UN refugee agency to repatriate Syrians to their home country

ISTANBUL – Turkey is working with the UN refugee agency to repatriate Syrians to their countries of origin, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Sunday.

“We are now receiving better support from the international community for the safe return and repatriation of refugees,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “We are working on the repatriation of refugees, especially in Syria, in particular with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

A UNHCR spokesperson in Turkey did not immediately respond to Cavusoglu’s remarks. The agency opposes forced repatriation, but has already negotiated with Turkey to allow voluntary returns to Syria.

Turkey is home to the world’s largest refugee population while Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq are also home to significant numbers of Syrians.

Cavusoglu was speaking at a ceremony in the southern province of Antalya after a visit to Turkey days earlier by UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi, during which he met Cavusoglu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Grandi thanked Turkey for hosting 3.7 million Syrians and 330,000 other refugees and asylum seekers, mostly Afghans.

Cavusoglu said the international community must work together to resolve migration.

“It’s not fair to look at this from a security point of view,” he said. “It is wrong to look at him in a racist and fascist way. On the other hand, if it is a social problem, we must assess it calmly together and find a solution by producing new policies.

In 2016, Turkey signed a deal with the European Union to prevent Syrians from settling in Europe in exchange for funding after more than a million migrants from Syria and elsewhere entered the bloc. of the 27 countries in 2015.

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Follow all of AP’s stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

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