Turkey’s door open to Syrians despite unrest

Turkey’s door open to Syrians despite unrest

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s door open to Syrians despite unrest

Syrian refugees walk out the container city in Kilis at the border with Syria after clashing with police during a demonstration. AFP photo

Turkey will maintain its open-door policy for Syrian refugees, despite the riots that have recently broken out at refugee camps, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The official added that the government was working to open new camps to shelter the increasing number of Syrian dissents fleeing into Turkey.

A total of 17 Syrians were arrested in Gaziantep’s İslahiye district after they had allegedly flown a Syrian flag in front of the camp where they are staying, and four Syrian refugees and four members of the Turkish security forces were injured on July 22 when riots broke out at a refugee camp near the town of Islahiye following the arrival of a group of 1,500 ethnic Turkmen refugees from Syria at the camp.

“The Turkish flag wasn’t lowered, but the Syrian flag was displayed at the entrance of the camp where the incidents occurred on July 22,” Islahiye District Governor Osman Beyazyıldız told reporters yesterday. “All possible security precautions have been taken. The 17 Syrians who led the incidents have been detained. Similar cases took place at the Hatay and Kilis camps.”

Protests for lack of food
Turkish police fired tear gas at stone-throwing Syrian refugees who were protesting a lack of food and water at camps along the border with their conflict-ravaged homeland. Following the incidents, security measures were increased, with police and armored vehicles patrolling around the camp.

The U.N. Refugee Agency was not managing the camps and was not present during the reported incident, Metin Çorabatır, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Turkey office told the Daily News yesterday. Under international law and standards, rights and responsibilities exist for those seeking protection, as well as for the host state, Çorabatır said, referring to the incidents at the refugee camps. “It is the responsibility of the host state to maintain law and order and to ensure access to protection, which we understand is still taking place,” Çorabatır said. The UNHCR also remains available to provide technical advice and expertise as needed.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was holding a meeting with a delegation from the Syrian National Council when the Daily News went to press yesterday.