'Turkey should not be left alone in Syrian refugee issue'
Germany's Federal Minister of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has praised Turkish efforts to accommodate Syrian refugees, during her visit to a refugee camp in Turkey's southern province of Kilis, and called on the EU, UN and international community "not to leave Turkey alone in the Syrian refugee issue."

She also presented aid packages valuing 200,000 euro and containing blankets, thick clothes for winter and medical supplies to the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) during her visit on Friday, which marked her first official visit to Turkey. Also, it was the first visit made by an official from the German government to the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey.

"I was impressed by what I saw. What Turkey has done is utterly outstanding. I found an organization and an environment created for the refugees far above my expectations. Turkey basically offered a future to the people sheltering there," she said.

Highlighting that Turkey has taken on a huge responsibility as regards the refugees, the German minister called on the EU, the UN and the international community not to leave Turkey alone in the issue of hosting Syrian refugees.

During her visit she visited a kindergarten and a container house of a Syrian family and spoke with the family members. Afterwards, she attended the opening of a social center offering arts and crafts training courses in a refugee camp.

Officials said humanitarian aid of about 90 million euros will be donated to the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, Syria's neighboring countries also housing Syrian refugees. But according to German law, it is not possible for Germany to donate financial aid, which is why Germany cannot respond to Turkey's request for this, German officials said.

Following her visit to Kilis, Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger went to Gaziantep to see the refugee camps in the province. Accompanied by Veysel Dalmaz, who is responsible for the coordination of the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, and Gaziantep Mayor Asım Güzelbey, the German minister toured the Information and Education Center for Syrian Guests, established by the Gaziantep Municipality.

Kilis Governor Süleyman Tapsız said that thousands of Syrians are waiting at the Turkish border in Syria to enter Turkey. "The money Turkey has spent on the Syrian refugees has exceeded TL 400 million. There are currently refugee camps in eight provinces and a total of 109,000 Syrians are living in these camps. And we guess there are approximately 70,000 Syrians living in cities. The housing capacity of the refugee camps is for 128,000 people. About 8,000 Syrians are waiting at the Syrian side of the Turkish border to enter Turkey. We allow people between 500 and 1,000 [to enter Turkey] every day, but the number of people waiting at the border never decreases. Turkey is already doing its best. The international community should not remain indifferent and insensitive," Tapsız stated.

City-like camps built for Syrian refugees in Kilis

There are currently 12,000 Syrian refugees in the camps in Kilis, which have cost Turkey more than $33 million. There are 2,051 container houses, 150 security officials responsible for the security of the camps, one hospital taking care of the refugees, three schools for the refugees and one post office in Kilis. There are 112 Syrian and 23 Turkish volunteer teachers at the three schools providing education for 4,200 Syrian refugee students.

As the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has now exceeded 100,000, it is feared that this level could trigger actions such as the creation of a buffer zone in the struggle to accommodate more refugees.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-02 20:00:02
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