Turkey continues crackdown on international humanitarian groups

The Turkish government this week deported foreigners working with Syrian refugees at a leading U.S.-based aid organization, part of what appears to be an ongoing crackdown on international humanitarian groups there.

The four foreigners were among 15 employees of the International Medical Corps (IMC) detained since April 20 by Turkish police in Gaziantep, the southern Turkish city where many organizations aiding millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey are based. The other 11 — all Syrians — remain in a detention camp, according to an IMC statement.

The reason behind the crackdown on humanitarian groups was not clear. Since late last year, pro-government media in Turkey have published allegations against international organizations, saying that some are involved in abusing refugees, including turning children against their parents and stealing body parts. Turkey also objects to humanitarian assistance going to Kurds in Syria.

In early March, the government ordered Oregon-based Mercy Corps to shut down its operations there, ending a program that provided regular assistance both to hundreds of thousands of refugees and to civilians besieged inside Syria.

Other, smaller aid groups have also been shut down, and many received indications their required annual registration may not be renewed.

[The Washington Post]

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