REYHANLI - Hürriyet Daily News
War-weary Syrian begin leaving Reyhanlı after the May 11 bombings that killed 52, saying they are afraid amid growing anger at their presence
Hundreds of refugees from Syria, most of them women and children, lived for months in a wedding ceremony hall in Reyhanlı before leaving the town. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
More than 600 Syrian refugees in bomb-hit Reyhanlı, mostly children under the age of 12, have left the town due to angry reactions by locals.
Some 400 of them were sent to three tent cities in the neighboring provinces of Şanlıurfa’s Akçakale, Gaizantep’s Nizip and Adıyaman
camps. Also a group of 250 refugees –accompanied by Turkish police – left Turkey through the Cilvegözü border gate May 14.
These Syrian nationals had not dared to leave a wedding ceremony hall despite very poor conditions since the bloody attacks that killed 52 people, five of them being Syrian citizens.
The shutters on the hall remained only half open during the daytime and Syrian men stood guard with Turkish police in front of the hall and on the street where the hall is located.
“We did not do anything [related to the attacks] but we are frightened,” a refugee said.
‘Not safe here’
“The war inside Syria continues, but we are not safe here either. Also the locals do not want us; we are being threatened,” Mahmud Abdul, a Syrian refugee, told the Hürriyet Daily News
before leaving Reyhanlı to return Syria.
The two-story hall, which is about 500 square meters, has two bathrooms and two toilets. Men stayed on the ground floor while women and children were placed upstairs, so the men could be responsible for providing security.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry official appointed to coordinate the Syrian camps in southern Turkish cities, Suphi Atan, said if the refugees are leaving Turkish borders of their own will, Turkey could only provide them “a safe exit.”
The locals’ reaction is not that serious, he said in a phone interview with the Hürriyet Daily News.
“This tension is temporary. I do not think the people of Reyhanlı are outraged against refugees, since half of the refugees are related to the locals. The Turkish government indicated some groups and ruled out links between Syrian rebels and these attacks,” Atan said.Rage aganist refugees
Atan said there might be some incidents against refugees carried out by some enraged young locals but the people of Reyhanlı cannot be held responsible for these attacks.
Reyhanlı Mayor Hüseyin Şanverdi admitted that there was growing anger in the town toward the Syrian refugees, but he denied that there had been any “attempted lynching” according to daily Radikal.
“I admit that there was outrage and a reaction against Syrians and that their cars were damaged by locals, but there was no attempted lynching and no Syrians died because of a lynching,” he was quoted as saying.
Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler also said again that the Syrian rebels and refugees had no links with the attacks, speaking in the Turkish Parliament.
The ruined streets of Reyhanlı have been a place of gatherings for mourning and protests against refugees lately. Turkish riot police have been dispatched to the town from neighboring provinces and stood guard in front of buildings where mostly refugees live.
As of yesterday, the overall number of Syrian refugees in camps inside Turkey was recorded at 193,767, Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) officials said.