Turkey closes US aid organisation helping Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees on the border to Turkey (© Ulas Yunus Tosun).

The Turkish government has ordered the immediate end to all operations of US humanitarian organisation Mercy Corps, which aids Syrian refugees with basic needs such as bread.

With the revocation of the organisation’s registration, assistance to hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians and refugees in Turkey and in Syria departing from Turkey come to an end.

According to a Mercy Corps’ statement on Wednesday, the organisation has provided lifesaving assistance to 350,000 to 500,000 innocent civilians in Syria each month since 2012, and to about 100,000 men, women and children in Turkey in 2016 alone.

“Our hearts are broken by this turn of events, which comes after five years of cooperation with the government of Turkey and other partners,” the statement read.

“We continue to seek a dialogue with Turkish authorities in an effort to obtain permission to resume our operations in Turkey as soon as possible. We remain hopeful that the government of Turkey will allow us to return to serve those in critical need, the statement said.

Authorities have given no specific reason for the decision. However commentators have speculated that the closure could be a response to Ankara’s disagreement with Washington over its support for Kurdish groups in Syria.