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Turkey to keep appealing for safe zones in Syria: diplomat

Turkish diplomat says Istanbul will continue its efforts to protect Syrian refugees regardless of absence of UN agreement

AFP , Friday 31 Aug 2012
Refugees
An elderly Syrian woman, who fled her home with their family in Aleppo due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, sits next to her grandson, as they take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (Photo: AP)
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 Turkey will keep up its diplomatic efforts to protect refugees within the Syrian territory, despite the lack of an agreement at the UN Security Council, a Turkish diplomat told AFP Friday.

"We will continue to appeal to the international community to act," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"This is not a situation that Turkey can handle on its own, but together with the international community."

On Thursday, Turkey demanded that world powers set up refugee camps within Syria to stem the massive outflow of refugees fleeing the fighting.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the UN Security Council to act "without delay" to set up safe havens, warning that 80,000 Syrians are already in camps in Turkey, with 4,000 crossing the border each day.

"How long are we going to sit and watch while an entire generation is being wiped out by random bombardment and deliberate mass targeting?", demanded Davutoglu, slamming the Security Council's failure to act on Syria.

"Let's not forget that if we do not act against such a crime against humanity happening in front of our eyes, we become accomplices to the crime," he said.

But world powers failed to reach an agreement on safe zones which would imply authorising a highly controversial protective military operation.

Speaking to reporters after his address at the Security Council, Davutoglu lashed out at the disagreement that emerged from the meeting.

"A historic opportunity was missed," Davutoglu said in televised remarks. "Now is not the time to talk but to act," he added. "Turkey should not be expected to undertake the entire responsibility that the United Nations should take."

Turkey is home to more than 80,000 refugees in its camps along the border with Syria, and Turkish officials say there are around 20,000 Syrians living in flats or hotels throughout the country.

The Turkish diplomat told AFP that Turkey would maintain its open-door policy for all Syrians fleeing the unrest.

"We will not say 'no' to any Syrian who crosses into Turkey," she said. "This is a humanitarian duty. We are taking measures to tackle it."

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