News / Middle East

Turkey Denies Deporting Syrian Refugees

A Syrian refugee family sits in front of their makeshift tent in the town of Viransehir in Sanliurfa province, southeast Turkey, Feb. 10, 2013.
A Syrian refugee family sits in front of their makeshift tent in the town of Viransehir in Sanliurfa province, southeast Turkey, Feb. 10, 2013.
Reuters
Turkey denied on Thursday it had rounded up and deported hundreds of Syrian refugees following unrest at a border camp, highlighting the strain the exodus from Syria's civil war is placing on neighbouring states.

Witnesses said hundreds of Syrians were bussed to the border after Wednesday's clashes in which refugees in the Suleymansah camp, near the Turkish town of Akcakale, threw rocks at military police, who fired tear gas and water cannon.

The Turkish foreign ministry denied any Syrians had been forcibly expelled, saying around 50-60 people had returned to Syria overnight and that some of them may have been involved in the unrest, but that they left voluntarily.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR voiced deep concern at reports of deportations and said it had taken up the issue with Turkey. Such deportations would be against U.N. conventions governing the treatment of refugees.

"There has been a big deportation operation here, they got rid of lots of people. They kicked out two of my boys and three of my brother's sons. They came for my boys last night and told them to get their bags,'' one refugee at the camp told Reuters by telephone, giving her name as Saher.

"Today, a large number of guards came in with shields and they went around the camp forcing people out. I think around 300 families left today,'' she said.

One official at the camp said 600-700 people had been deported including those identified from security camera footage as being involved in the violence, along with their families.

"The security forces are still looking at the footage, and if they see more they will deport them,'' the official said.

A second Turkish official in the region put the number lower, saying about 400 had been sent home.

UN "very concerned"

Turkey's foreign ministry said forcible deportation would be contrary to the rules Turkey has set for temporarily sheltering Syrians fleeing their country's civil war.

"Some people have returned since last night, the numbers are closer to 50 or 60, and yes some of these may have been involved in the provocations from yesterday but they returned of their own free will,'' ministry spokesman Levent Gumrukcu said.

Syrian Refugees by Country

Jordan 448,370
Lebanon 455,665
Turkey 324,770
Iraq 142,395
Egypt  62,032

Source: UNHCR
Since the revolt in Syria began two years ago, more than 1.2 million Syrians fleeing violence and persecution have registered as refugees or await processing in neighboring countries and North Africa, the UNHCR says. They include 261,635 in Turkey, mostly staying in 17 camps, many of them teeming.

"UNHCR is very concerned with reports of a serious incident and allegations of possible deportations from Akcakale tent city in the past 24 hours,'' Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told Reuters.

Its office in Turkey was seeking further information about Wednesday's incident and the alleged deportations.

Dozens of protesters threw stones and smashed the windows of a fire truck during Wednesday's unrest.

Camp residents said young men started the protest against living conditions there after faulty electrics set a tent on fire which injured three brothers aged seven, 18 and 19.

But a Turkish official said the unrest was triggered when guards turned away around 200 Syrians trying to get into the site, which is already full, home to 35,000 people and one of the largest such camps in Turkey.

Camps in Turkey for the most part have facilities such as electric heaters to protect against freezing temperatures and refugees receive three hot meals a day, better

But overcrowding remains a concern, with ever more refugees arriving as fighting across the border drags on.

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid