News / Middle East

Increasing Number of Syrians Flee to Turkey

A Turkish soldier stands by as a group of Syrians wait for the authorization to enter Turkey near the Turkish village of Guvecci in Hatay province, Turkey, which borders Syria, June  9, 2011
A Turkish soldier stands by as a group of Syrians wait for the authorization to enter Turkey near the Turkish village of Guvecci in Hatay province, Turkey, which borders Syria, June 9, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

Hundreds of Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey to escape the latest upsurge of unrest in Syria.  Turkey is bracing itself for a potential major exodus, as protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad escalate. There are growing concerns the destabilization in Syria could spill over into Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday more than 2,500 civilians have entered his country since the unrest in neighboring Syria began in March. The influx prompted Turkish authorities to set up three camps to handle the crisis.

Hundreds of Syrians are continuing to cross into Turkey to escape President Bashar al-Assad's weeks-long crackdown against anti-government protesters.  Some of the refugees are believed to be from the town of Jisr al-Shughour, where 120 security troops were reportedly killed Monday during the anti-government demonstrations.  

The government has issued orders for security forces to hit back, accusing the protesters of being armed bandits.  

With the escalating violence, political scientist Soli Ozel says a major crisis could be looming; 250 refugees fled the conflict last month.

"You are liable to get massive influx of people trying to escape the war zones," Ozel said.

The Iraq crisis saw tens of thousands of people seeking refuge in Turkey, and according to Turkish media reports, facilities for 10,000 refugees are now being prepared.  

There is visa-free travel between Turkey and Syria, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday the border would remain open.

Mr. Erdogan said at this point, closing the border is out of question.  He said his government is following the developments in Syria with concern, and urged Damascus to show more tolerance toward its citizens and take concrete steps toward reform as soon as possible.

The Turkish prime minister has pressed President Assad to introduce reforms, but has resisted domestic and international pressure to take a tougher line, saying Damascus should be given time.  

But the escalating crisis has seen Ankara toughening its language towards Damascus.  Diplomatic correspondent for the Turkish daily Milliyet, Semih Idiz, says the government is taking an increasingly more nuanced stance.

"We understand there is still a dialogue between Bashar al-Assad and the prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan.  On the other hand, the Syrian opposition met in Turkey and that could not have gone down very well in Damascus," Idiz said.

One reason behind Ankara reaching out to Syria is that it has a restive Kurdish population, which political scientist Nuray Mert of Istanbul University says has close ties with the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, which is fighting the Turkish state.

"We know that there are very close links between PKK and Syrian Kurds, and this [is] another threat of destabilization in Turkey because anyway we have huge problems concerning the Kurdish problem," Mert said.

One of the main factors behind the rapprochement between the two countries was President Assad's crackdown against Syrian Kurdish nationalists.  Now, according to diplomatic correspondent Idiz, Ankara fears Mr. Assad may be reaching out to his restive Kurdish population.

"We understand Bashar al-Assad is now trying to co-opt the Kurds.  What happens to them politically and how they interact with northern Iraq and the Kurds in Turkey is of relevance [to] Ankara," Idiz said.

With the Syrian president increasingly isolated and desperate, concerns in Turkey that instability could spread to its territory are growing.

"Many people in the bordering areas in Syria and Turkey have relations, and there is the Alevi and Sunni situation also, [which] plays out in Turkey.  Do not forget Turkey has Alevi population that numbers anything up to 12 million," Idiz said.

Ankara will be hoping the Syrian crisis can be defused by government reforms and negotiations with the Syrian opposition, but as violence increases, observers say that is looking unlikely.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid