News / Middle East

For Refugees Who Flee Aleppo, Turkish Camps Await

Henry Ridgwell
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey — As fighting intensifies between government and rebel forces in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the United Nations says hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes.  On the Turkish border, some 50 kilometers from Aleppo, authorities are bracing for an influx of refugees.

In the searing summer heat, the vast and dusty Ceylanpinar refugee camp is the new home for refugees who have fled Syria for their lives.  It is two kilometers from the Turkish-Syrian border and 10 kilometers from the nearest village.

Security is tight and many refugees say that conditions are so inhospitable that they would prefer to take their chances back in Syria.

The UNHCR says more Syrians are fleeing as violence increases. Most are heading to the following countries:

  • Jordan: 150,000 refugees
  • Turkey: 70,000 refugees
  • Lebanon: More than 35,000 refugees
  • Iraq: 12,000 registered refugees
  • Algeria: 10-25,000 refugees

source: UNHCR
Some 29,000 refugees have decided to return home, according to the Turkish government.  Other refugee camps, like Kilis further west, are full.

Aleppo is about a 40 minute drive south.  The United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 people have been forced to flee the city as fighting intensifies.  But so far, only a fraction of that number have crossed the border into Turkey.

"Now the center of Aleppo is being shelled and attacked by the government forces,” explained a refugee from Aleppo, who did not want to be named.  “But the surrounding countryside is under the full control of the Free Syrian Army opposition rebels.  So people are staying with relatives or friends there.”

Turkish authorities say they are preparing for up to 100,000 refugees.

While inspecting the Ceylanpinar camp, Kilis Governor Yusuf Odabas appeared unsure when asked about the potential for a sudden influx of refugees.

“Don’t ask me," he said. "Maybe you have reporters there, you will get more accurate information from them if there are attacks there, or if the refugees are stuck and can’t come here.  Those who come to our border, we bring them in.  Those who are injured, we give medical care.”

Lying in a special medical ward in Antakya General Hospital reserved for Syrians, a man named Mohammed showed the deep wound in his back torn by shrapnel.  He said he was at home in Jisr al-Shugour when government forces launched a mortar attack on the village last week.

He said forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al- Assad are using helicopters and fighter jets and that "all Syrian cities are on fire."

It appears that the Free Syria Army is holding enough ground to allow civilians to escape the gun battles raging in cities like Aleppo.

But if the rebels lose that grip, analysts say camps like Ceylanpinar could soon house tens of thousands more refugees.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs