Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thousands of Syrians flee unrest to Turkey


More than 2,400 refugees flee unrest in Jisr al-Shughur and other towns as Turkish officials brace for further arrivals.


"More than 2,400 Syrians have fled into neighbouring Turkey to escape the unrest in Jisr al-Shughur and other towns, according to the UN and Turkish officials.

Refugees started entering Turkey on April 29, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But the flow of refugees has increased sharply this week. More than 1,000 people crossed the border in the last 24 hours, the UNHCR said on Thursday.

Speaking from Abu Dhabi, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said: "We have serious concerns about the situation in Syria.

"Half an hour ago I received exact numbers - more than 2,400 people have now come to Turkey as refugees." Most are being housed at a refugee camp in Yayladagi, a town about 10km from the border and 25km from Jisr al-Shughur.

Dozens of white tents have been set up in the camp, and ambulances have been carrying wounded people to hospitals in Antakya, the capital of Turkey's southern Hatay province......

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey will not "close its doors" to Syrians fleeing conflict.

He also urged Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's government to "change its attitude towards civilians.".....

'Massive flow'

Turkish officials say they are preparing for the possibility of more refugees in the coming days; the camp at Yayladagi can hold up to 5,000 people, and a second camp is "under consideration," according to local media.

Video shot near the border shows dozens of Syrians camped out in a field on Syria's side of the border, apparently trying to position themselves for a quick exodus.

"We have taken all necessary precautions in case of a massive flow of crossings," Davutoglu said in a Turkish television interview on Wednesday....."

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