Monday, August 13, 2012

Syrian refugees in Turkey reach close to 60,000: official

ANKARA: The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has reached around 60,000 Monday after some 7,000 people fled across the border in a three-day mass exodus, according to official Turkish data.

As of Monday, the number of Syrian citizens who have fled violence in their homeland and crossed into Turkey has reached 59,710, read an online statement from the country's Disaster and Emergency Administration (AFAD).

The mass arrivals prompted a summit at the prime minister's office to discuss contingency planning in the event the refugee numbers keep increasing at the current rate, reported Turkey's state-run news agency Anatolia.

The summit was led by Deputy Premier Besir Atalay and was attended by Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin and Turkish intelligence undersecretary Hakan Fidan, as well as governors from the border cities that shelter the refugees.

Turkey currently has eight tent settlements set up in the border cities of Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Hatay, and a city of prefabricated homes in Kilis that can hold up to 12,000 people.

After the increase in arrivals, thousands of newcomers were transferred to school dormitories and hostels in nearby cities for temporary accommodation as Turkey kept up work to build additional settlements, AFAD said.

There has been a marked increase in the number of refugees making their way to Turkey amid the battle between regime forces and rebels for Syria's northern city of Aleppo.

Turkey is sheltering thousands of refugees in camps in the southern part of the country and also providing sanctuary to Syrian military defectors in a separate camp near the border, where security is tighter.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::