Syriacs massively fleeing to Turkey urge change of border crossing policy

Syriacs massively fleeing to Turkey urge change of border crossing policy

Gülden AYDIN ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Syriacs massively fleeing to Turkey urge change of border crossing policy

Hundreds of Syriacs have taken refuge in the town of Midyat.

Syriacs are calling on Turkey to let their relatives who have fled from Syria to have a stamp that allows them to migrate to European countries where large Syriac communities are living.

The number of Syriacs fleeing to Turkey, particularly from the border city of Qamishli, has massively increased after the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) spread throughout Northern Syria.

Syriacs mostly transit from Turkey to Europe through illegal routes by paying between five and 10 thousand-euros to smugglers and human trafficking networks. However, countries such as Germany and Sweden refuse the entry of Syriacs from legal routes without an entry stamp to Turkey.

“Our relatives have fled to Europe. But Sweden and Germany will not give us visas without an entry stamp to Turkey in our passports. Turkey should find a solution to this. We did not come under normal conditions, we fled for our lives,” Nahir Corc, a Syriac refugee temporarily living with four other families in Midyat’s Syriac Cultural Association told Hürriyet, adding ISIL militants target the Christian community.

“They abduct our priests and our nuns. They are using religion and sects to redraw the Middle East’s map,” Corc says, adding 300 young people were armed against ISIL’s looting and murders in Qamishli.

Properties extorted

Other members of the community flee to the Mor Barsavmo Church in Midyat, in the southeastern province of Mardin, to seek help from Turkish Syriacs.

The head of the Syriac Cultural Association, Ayhan Gürkan, said many Syriacs living in Syria have had their properties and goods extorted.

The priest of the parish, İshak Ergün, stressed that they have to deal with people sustaining serious psychological problems.

“They come here with hope, knowing they will meet other Christians, but the majority have psychological problems and cannot sleep because of nightmares. There are also soldiers who fled after being abducted by the Free Syrian Army,” he said.

Russia to send troops to Qamishli

Syriacs in Midyat also say their community disapproves of Turkey’s Syria policy. A Syriac senior army official claimed the Christian community in Syria reached an agreement with Russia after asking Moscow to send troops to protect them.

According to his claim, Russia will send soldiers to Qamishli, arming Christians against abductions and looting.