Visits by Syrian during Eid holiday restricted

Visits by Syrian during Eid holiday restricted

Visits by Syrian during Eid holiday restricted

Turkish authorities have imposed restrictions on the visits of Syrian refugees living in Turkey to Syria during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Each year, thousands of Syrian refugees cross the border into Syria to celebrate the holiday, which marks the end of the Islamic holiday month of Ramadan, and then return to Turkey.

Syrians, who registered online, started to visit their country, and as of April 19, more than 300 of them crossed the common border through the Bab al-Salama and Çobanbey crossings.

However, authorities have stopped allowing Syrian families to travel to the other side of the border starting April 20, daily Milliyet reported.

Only those who request permission to attend special occasions, such as funerals or health-related issues, are allowed to cross the border.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu suggested this week that Turkey was mulling ending Syrian refugees’ visit to the neighboring country for the Eid holiday.

“There would be some restrictions during this and the next Eid holiday on the visits,” Soylu said.

Speaking after the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) weekly meeting on April 20, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “What Mr. Süleyman said is true. We are a government that embraces refugees, not expelling them.”

Turkey will ensure that the Syrians return to their country once the briquette houses in northern Syria are finished, and they will return there voluntarily, Erdoğan told reporters.

Meanwhile, Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said this week that those migrants who go back to their country to celebrate Eid al-Fitr should not be allowed to return to Turkey.

The Syrians should return voluntarily with dignity once the decade-old internal conflict ends in their country, Bahçeli said.

Turkey hosts around 5 million refugees, with 3.5 million of them Syrians.