Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ankara holds security meeting on growing number of Syrian refugees

Growing number of Syrian citizens who have fled to Turkey and their needs were at the center of a high-level meeting held in Ankara yesterday.

As a precaution in the case of a further influx of Syrians, the Turkish government decided to open new tent cities in places such as Osmaniye, Kahramanmaraş and Nizip, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay told reporters after the meeting.

“We don’t expect an extraordinary influx. But we are taking precautions in case of surprises,” Atalay said. “As the civil war inside [Syria] picks up, groups of people are coming each day. More people are coming to the border with Turkey. We have taken serious precautions, both in the form of tent cities and container cities,” he said.

Atalay led the meeting aimed at coordinating efforts regarding ten thousands of Syrian citizens who have fled to Turkey and which was attended by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, Deputy Interior Minister Osman Güneş, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief foreign policy adviser İbrahim Kalın and head of the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), Fuat Oktay.
Turkey’s Consul-General in Aleppo Adnan Keçeci who was recalled to Ankara for consultations on Monday was also present at the meeting, giving information from the ground.

More than 43,000 Syrian refugees are registered in neighboring Turkey. Some refugees have complained about conditions at the camps, including a lack of food.

“It is an outsider and problematic population. They may have some problems. Turkey is exerting great effort for resolving these problems,” Atalay said. He also called on media not to exaggerate minor public order problems at tent cities, noting that these kinds of incidents should be regarded as normal since there is a “traumatized” population in those cities.

The meeting in Ankara came following the arrest of a total of 17 Syrians in Gaziantep’s İslahiye district after they had allegedly flown a Syrian flag in front of the camp where they are staying, and four Syrian refugees and four members of the Turkish security forces were injured on July 22 when riots broke out at a refugee camp near the town of İslahiye following the arrival at the camp of a group of 1,500 ethnic Turkmen refugees from Syria. More international aid collected by the United Nations will be allocated for Syrians in Turkey, Atalay said. He also noted that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have separately offered aid, and contacts with these countries are being held through the Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, Syria’s rebels accused strongman Bashar al-Assad yesterday of moving chemical weapons to the country’s borders, a day after his beleaguered regime said it would use its stockpiles if attacked, Agence France-Presse reported.

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