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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora