Scottish based charity expelled from Turkey

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Humanitarian aid organisation Mercy Corps has been forced to shut down its operations by the Turkish government

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9th March 2017 by Paul Cardwell 1 Comment

Mercy Corps has been forced to shut down its operations in Turkey by the Turkish government.

The international aid agency, whose European base is in Edinburgh, had its registration to operate in the country revoked on 7 March forcing the immediate closure of its services there.

The reason for the expulsion is unclear with a spokesperson for Mercy Corps saying it is seeking talks with Turkish authorities to re-obtain permission to operate.

The aid group has been working in the country since 2012 as part of its campaign to assist with humanitarian aid in Syria and delivers urgent assistance to 350,000 to 500,000 civilians each month.

More recently, it has provided a range of social services and other emergency assistance in Turkey, reaching about 100,000 Syrian and Turkish men, women and children in 2016 alone.

“Our hearts are broken by this turn of events,” a Mercy Corps spokesperson said in a statement.

“Our operations in Syria will continue, and our priority right now is to limit any adverse effects our departure from Turkey may have on the innocent men, women and children who depend on our assistance.

“We remain hopeful that the government of Turkey will allow us to return to serve those in critical need.

“We are grateful for the cooperation provided until now by Turkey, which has generously opened its doors to more than three million refugees since the Syria conflict began.”

The Turkish government has not commented publicly on the closure or given any reasons.

However, last November it closed hundreds of charities, NGOs and trade unions following a failed coup in the country in July.

They were accused of having contacts with either the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), the Gulen Movement, which is said to have been behind the coup attempt, or Islamic State.

At the time, activists said the accusations were simply a smokescreen allowing Turkish president Recip Erdogan to clamp down on dissent.

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