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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora