TURKEY has vowed to build a massive wall along its border with Syria to crack down on illegal immigrants and people trafficking in a shock turnaround from its generous open-door policy.
One of the last escape routes for Syrian migrants will be cut off when Ankara ploughs ahead with its plans for a wall to seal off its 900km border that it shares with Syria.
The move comes just weeks after Turkey’s parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman moaned Europe was “building walls” and “closing their doors”, while his country welcomed 2.7million Syrians.
But Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, last week, vowed to build a “safe zone” saying: “The problem of terrorism and the refugee problem will be resolved when we secure Syrian soils step by step”.
Following a spate of terror attacks by the barbaric Islamic State, Turkey stepped up its security and a 200km stretch has already been completed, after building works began in 2014.
And now only two official crossings out of the 19 along the Turkish-Syrian border remain open for Syrian asylum seekers.
Humanitarian workers warn that more than 100,000 Syrians have become stuck at the border in a year, which has led to the rise in devious people smuggling operations who use this as a way to lure desperate migrants into paying thousands to cross.
Mohamad Shaban, 23, told US politics site, Politico: “The Turkish army don’t allow anyone to get in and it is very dangerous for anyone who tries by smuggling.
“When we were at the border Turkish guards fired into the air just so the people who try to cross feel afraid.”
There are also reports of Turkish border guards “shooting and killing families trying to cross”, which Ankara strenuously denies.
Gerry Simpson, HRW’s refugee researcher, said: “Since that time, it’s become nearly impossible to flee into Turkey.”Former law student, Rida, 26, added: “I tried many times to cross illegally but wasn’t able to do that because the Turkish army shot at this who tried to cross. I haven’t met or seen my family for a year.”