UN, Turkey gearing up for 200,000 refugees

UN, Turkey gearing up for 200,000 refugees

UN, Turkey gearing up for 200,000 refugees

A Syrian family sits on a pavement after they were not allowed entry to Turkey near the Syrian-Turkish border line. AFP photo

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey could reach 200,000 as the conflict deepens, the United Nations refugee agency has said, adding that many others could also flee to Jordan.

“The increase in the number of Syrians arriving in Turkey has been dramatic. Compared to previous weeks in which we saw about 400 to 500 people arriving a day, we’ve been seeing peaks of up to 5,000 people in one day over the past two weeks,” Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said at a news briefing yesterday.

A growing number of unaccompanied children without parents are also turning up in camps, the UNHCR said. Refugees from the southern Syrian province of Deraa have reported being bombed by aircraft or shelled on their journey across the border.

“We are already looking at potentially up to 200,000, and are working with the Turkish government to make the necessary plans,” another spokeswoman, Sybella Wilkes, told Reuters. Turkish authorities have sought assistance from the UNHCR and other agencies, Fleming said. “But they will continue to provide access and open borders to Syrians fleeing the conflict.”

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will depart for New York today to participate in the ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council tomorrow. He will submit a presentation on the current situation in Syria and the growing refugee problem.

Call for calm from governor

The volume of Syrian refugees reaching the Za’atri camp in northern Jordan has doubled, with 10,200 arriving in the past week, heralding what could be a bigger mass movement, she said. “We do believe this could be the start of a major, much larger influx into Jordan,” Fleming said. Meanwhile, Hatay Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz has urged for calm after residents living in the host cities of refugee camps began to reveal their discontent with the situation. Lekesiz said the claims were baseless and that residents should not listen to gossips since there are some people who wants a chaos. “So far there are 157 incidents that Syrians have been involved in in Hatay, and legal action has been taken against 380 of them. Also, 13 people have been sentenced to jail,” he said.

Response from Arınç

Commenting on news reports suggesting people are ill at ease because of Syrian refugees are speculative, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said, going so far as to claim the reports are fabricated for speculative purposes.

He also responded to questions on main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) claims that they could not get the approval from authorities to visit the Apaydın refugee camp, where it is claimed that rebels are being trained. “This is entirely a politically motivated attitude with a provocative goal,” Arınç said.

Later on the night of Aug. 27 CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu issued a statement holding the Turkish government responsible for Muslims’ bloodshed in turmoil-hit Syria. “If the government is training armed staff on [Turkish] soil and raising al-Qaeda members, then the ruling party should give an account to the people. The government is responsible for Muslims’ bloodshed in Syria, the history will write this down,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.