Thousands of Syrians amass on Turkish border
AFP photoTens of thousands of Syrians fleeing violence in the war-torn country have amassed on the Turkish border, with more compatriots also expected to head toward the frontier.
The increased refugee flow from northern Syria amid the conflict in Syria’s Azaz and Aleppo regions – two strongholds of the Syrian opposition – reached the Turkey border on Feb. 5 as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said they expected around 70,000 refugees, including Turkmens, to flock to the Turkey-Syria border.
Around 10,000 refugees have already been placed in tent cities on the Syrian side of the border, having reached the region after days of walking with their families and heavy loads.
“Thousands of people, mainly families with women and children, are waiting to enter Turkey,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence-France Presse.
The United Nations said in a written statement that at least 15,000 Syrians had left Aleppo due to attacks by Syrian government forces that targeted the province, which has been controlled by rebels for much of the war.
The U.N. said the Turkish border would remain closed for civilians, but added that those who need medical care would be treated in Turkish hospitals, citing local sources.
The incident came as the interior ministers of Germany and France said the huge flow of migrants and refugees to Europe via Turkey must be slowed.
“The goal cannot just be to register arriving refugees and to relocate them equitably [but above all] to reduce the flow,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Feb. 5 at the close of a two-day visit to registration facilities in Greece.
De Maiziere and his French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, stressed that there was room for improvement in coordinating security databases on Europe’s borders.
The statement came a day after Davutoğlu referred to thousands of Syrians fleeing violence in Aleppo in a speech he delivered at a donor conference in London.
“Now 10,000 new refugees are waiting in front of the door of Kilis [a Turkish province on the border with Syria] because of air bombardment and attacks against Aleppo,” the Turkish premier said at the donor conference in London on Feb. 4, referring to alleged attacks of regime forces backed by Russia.
“Right now, my heart is with my country’s border. I am thinking of how and where we will need to locate the people coming from Syria,” he added.
Meanwhile, security measures have been tightened at the border. Accordingly, some NGOs are preparing for humanitarian aid to refugees at the border.
Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) officers will be registering refugees at the customs area where tents have been erected, local reports said.
In Kilis, leave for police and military officers have been lifted until further notice, due to mobilization near the border.
Davutoğlu reiterated during the donor conference that the country had so far spent 10 billion dollars on Syrians who have been placed in refugee camps in Turkey.