Seven families go back to Syria in last wave of ‘voluntarily return’
Ali Rıza Akbulut – ISTANBUL
Some 34 members of seven Syrian families, who have been residing in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district for a decade, “went back home” with an official ceremony held by the local municipality.
Thanking Turkey for being their home, the families moved back to the Syrian cities of Afrin, Latakia and the capital Damascus on a bus on June 8.
“We took shelter in Turkey to save our lives. Thanks for opening your houses to us,” said Hesim Habesh, the father of a six-member family, before the departure.
Within the remit of a project named “Voluntarily Return,” the municipality of Esenyurt helped around 2,700 Syrians return to their homeland.
Seven families were the latest Syrians who applied to the municipality for help.
“We arrange buses and send our Syrian guests back to their country for free,” Kemal Deniz Bozkurt, the mayor of Esenyurt, said after bidding farewell to the bus which departed from in front of the municipality building.
“We, as a family, came here in 2015. Afrin is now secure, so we leave,” said Adnan Kado, the father of a six-member family.
Azat Bakir, who has been a “guest” since 2014, said, “Going back was always the plan we had in mind since we left Afrin.”