Meskhetian Turks flee eastern Ukraine

Meskhetian Turks flee eastern Ukraine

KYIV – Anadolu Agency
Meskhetian Turks flee eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen stand guard on a street near the burning building after a shelling by pro-Russian rebels of a residential sector in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, January 24, 2015. REUTERS Photo

At least 300 people from the Turkish-speaking minority in eastern Ukraine, known as the Meskhetian Turks, have fled their houses in Slaviansk following clashes between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, a community representative has said.

The Donetsk representative of the Meskhetian Turks Vatan Association, Necician Bastov, told the Anadolu Agency on Jan. 27 that refugees had fled for Turkey, among other countries, amid fears that war will return to the city.

Bostov was concerned about a possible new wave of refugees if the situation in Slaviansk deteriorates.
He said the Meskhetian Turks, also known as Ahıska Turks, want a homeland to live in safely and called for Turkey’s help.

Bostov said nearly 3,000 Meskhetian Turks fled last year after pro-Russian separatists took control of Slaviansk.

Over 4,700 people have been killed and 10,322 have been wounded in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since mid-April, according to the United Nations.

Meskhetian Turks were expelled in 1944 from their homeland – the Meskheti region in Georgia – by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, in an attempt to deport Turks from the shores of the Black Sea.

Those who migrated to Ukraine in 1990 settled in shanty towns used by seasonal workers.