By Ilgin Karlidag
ISTANBUL (AA) – European Union member states have become increasingly intolerant towards refugees amid rising far-right and populist parties across the continent, according to migration experts speaking in Istanbul on Wednesday.
An International Migration and Diplomacy conference took place in Turkey’s largest city as the country continues to shelter the largest refugee population in the world.
Philippe Fargues, head of the Migration Policy Center, told Anadolu Agency: "Intolerance is clearly rising among [EU] member states. Many governments now are closing the door to refugees."
Fargues said the rise in support for far-right and anti-immigrant parties in Europe is one of the underlying causes behind certain EU member states’ shift to closed-door policies towards refugees.
"Europe was first divided between opening the door and shutting the door and now the second option is [prevailing] everywhere, including Germany," Fargues said.
"Containing the [refugee] flow has become a slogan everywhere in the EU," he added and warned that this would only make the situation worse.
"Shutting the door to people who are fleeing life-threatening conditions will not deter their determination to find shelter; it will only make the journey more perilous and raise the price of smugglers," Fargues said.
Deputy minister at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Naci Koru, told the conference: "Despite all challenges, Turkey has kept its doors open to Syrians since the very beginning of the crisis.
"Turkey has always avoided discrimination based on ethnicity or religion," he added. "We expect the international community to show the necessary solidarity and act with greater sensitivity with respect to burden sharing."
Hosting almost three million Syrian refugees, Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion on caring for them since the beginning of the Syrian crisis.
A deal reached in March between Turkey and the EU includes a six-billion-euro ($6.8 billion) aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country.
The European Commission’s total support so far through the refugee action plan amounts to 190 million euros ($214.87 million).
Istanbul is set to host the first-ever international humanitarian summit on May 23 and May 24 when around 5,000 participants from government, business, aid organizations, affected communities, faith-based organizations, international and national nongovernmental organization and academia will meet.