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Erdogan Plans to Repatriate a ‘Million Syrian Refugees’

Erdogan Plans to Repatriate a ‘Million Syrian Refugees’

Sunday, 8 May, 2022 - 09:30
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu opening a displacement camp in Idlib (AFP)

Turkey has announced a plan to return a million Syrians to their homeland, supported by national and international civil organizations.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country is making the necessary preparations for a comprehensive project that allows the voluntary return of one million Syrians to 13 regions.


Turkey intends to provide mosques, schools, hospitals, bakeries, and "all the needs of daily life and self-sufficient economic infrastructure, from agriculture to industry," Erdogan said.


The project is coordinated with Turkish and international non-governmental organizations and 13 local councils.


Making the remarks in a video message to a Turkish-sponsored residential construction project in Idlib, Erdogan said some 500,000 Syrians have already returned to "safe regions" in their home country in recent years.


Some 57,000 homes already house 50,000 families, and another 50,000 are to be built in Idlib.


Last week, Turkish media affiliated with the government said it plans to return Syrian refugees to their country, referring to the plans to encourage "voluntary return" and scure housing and services that guarantee the return of Syrian refugees.


A Turkish newspaper revealed a plan to return 1.5 million Syrian refugees to their country within 15 to 20 months, noting that the Turkish government has completed all the studies necessary to build 200,000 homes with Qatari funding.


The newspaper noted that the talks between Turkey and the Syrian regime aim to discuss two main issues, the refugees and the problem of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, the most significant component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).


Hurriyet daily revealed details of the Turkish plan to ensure a stable life and encourage the voluntary return of refugees.


As part of councils established in the safe havens protected by Turkish soldiers, more than 12,000 local security guards have been trained, and nearly 3,000 consultants have been appointed to town and neighborhood administrations.


An urban security and management system has been established in Afrin, Ras al-Ayn, Azez, Al-Bab, and Tell Abyad. A judiciary communication system is also being tested in those cities and towns.


A new public hospital will be added to the health system, including eight public hospitals, 33 private hospitals, 106 health centers, 42 emergency health units, ten mobile health vehicles, and 76 ambulances.


Some 50,000 locals have been employed in the newly-built industrial zones. Farmers have been provided seed and fertilizers.


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was possible to cooperate with the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, on terrorism and migrants without recognizing him.


Cavusoglu stressed that his country supports the unity of the Syrian territory, noting that the Syrian army has recently started fighting the People's Protection Units, the most significant component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which he said "plans to divide Syria."


The Turkish minister said that his country had started a new stage to "voluntarily and safely" return refugees to Syria in cooperation with Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.


Turkey hosts more than 3.7 million Syrians, and the Syrians' issues have topped the country's main agenda ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2023.


Several parties and officials, even within the ruling Justice and Development Party, have increased pressure on the government to begin the safe return of Syrians to their homeland.


Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar confirmed that his country is closely following developments in northern Syria and will not allow the establishment of a terrorist corridor on its southern borders.


Akar added that there is no difference between the Kurdistan Workers' Party and its extension in Syria, the People's Protection Units.


He added that Turkey would continue to fight the terrorists regardless of who supports them, in reference to the United States, which supports the SDF as an ally in the war against ISIS.


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