Thousands of Iraqis fleeing from jihadist violence seeking refuge in Turkey
Sevil Erkuş ANKARA
Yezidi families are massively fleeing Sinjar, heading to Iraq's Dohuk district and Turkey. AA PhotoAt least 25,000 Iraqi nationals who have fled from jihadist violence in their homeland are seeking refuge in Turkey, with the number of figures sharply increasing since July as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis suffer at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The number of Iraqi citizens who have tried to appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Ankara for refugee status after having fled from jihadists since May is estimated to be around 25,000, sources said.
The UNHCR Office has only had the capacity to process applications for 15,000 of the refugees since May, the same sources said.
The UNHCR is able to handle 300 out of 700-800 people applying on a daily basis, sources said. Some 3,000 Iraqis have now begun applying on a weekly basis, according to sources.
The UNHCR said 1,884 Iraqi citizens finalized applications in May, 4,968 people in June, and 7,130 people in July.
Sources said the number 25,000 did not necessarily reflect the total number of Iraqi citizens who have taken shelter in Turkey due to ISIL’s terror, since all of them might not have been able to reach a UNHCR Office for application.
Asylum and Migration Research Center Vice Chairman Metin Çorabatır told the Hürriyet Daily News that the number of Iraqis crossing into Turkey and applying to the UNHCR office in Ankara had sharply increased after ISIL captured Mosul in June.
As the number of Iraqis fleeing from their homeland has increased rapidly, Turkey has set up a camp in northern Iraq to contain them in their country, Çorabatır said.
According to the refugee law, if there is a safe haven in the country, displaced people should take shelter in such places before receiving refugee status.
Despite no declared policy on the issue, Turkey has indicated that it wants to contain Iraqis within a camp in northern Iraq under the oversight of the Iraqi Kurdish authority and conduct humanitarian assistance there.