Half of Syrians currently living in Turkey will stay: Red Crescent head
Half of the Syrians currently living in Turkey will not return to their home country even if the ongoing civil war comes to an end, Turkish Red Crescent President Kerem Kınık has said in an interview with daily Habertürk.
“We periodically conduct surveys [with Syrians in Turkey]. The number of those who say they would return immediately if security is provided and the future of their family is secured amount to around 60 percent [of Syrians in Turkey],” Kınık said in the interview, published on March 4.
An estimated 3.5 million Syrians currently live in Turkey, and recently President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has recently suggested that the country cannot continue “hosting them all forever.” He has specifically stated that Turkey intends to resettle many Syrian migrants in areas of northern Syria secured by ongoing military operations with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), including Jarablus, al-Bab and potentially Afrin.
However, Kınık stated that many Syrians would likely not opt to return across the border.
“Realistically, I think around half of them would prefer to return [to Syria] if the conditions were right but the other half will stay here,” Kınık said.
“About 75 percent of the Syrians living in Turkey are women, children and elderly people over the age of 65. Some of their family members are currently fighting in Syria … Those Syrians who have gone to Europe from Turkey have been selectively accepted; those with a profession, those from certain ethnic groups or families, and those with good qualifications have tended to go,” he added.
EU funds Syrians’ monthly allowance
The Turkish Red Crescent has been distributing a small monthly allowance of 120 Turkish Liras to nearly 1.3 million Syrians in Turkey and for this program it has been using funds allocated by the EU for the past four years.
The EU also has been funding the Red Crescent’s education program for 250,000 Syrian children living in Turkey, in collaboration with UNICEF.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Red Crescent has been running camps for internally displaced people in several areas within Syria including Jarablus, Idlib, and Eastern Goutha, a suburban district of the capital Damascus that has recently been under fierce siege from the forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
“We set up around 10 camps directly and we have been supporting around 400 camps. There are currently around 5.5 million internally displaced people inside Syria,” he said.
Humanitarian aid is not being allowed in Afrin
Meanwhile, Kınık claimed that in Afrin, which has an estimated population of over 300,000 people, the freedom to travel for civilians is severely restricted by Kurdish and regime forces.
“If they were allowed many would want to leave Afrin for Idlib and Aleppo. Unfortunately in the present situation civilians are being kept in the town and used as human shields. The terrorist organizations there acknowledge that Turkey, in contrast with some other countries, will not blow civilians to pieces by indiscriminately bombing,” he said.
“They don’t allow in aid either. We don’t have any operation inside Afrin [city center]. But our colleagues have been carrying out humanitarian aid activities in 120 points, including 91 villages, around Afrin,” he added.
The Red Crescent has also been contributing to ongoing projects to build hospitals, schools and housing projects in and around Jarablus, Kınık told Habertürk.