Middle East

Fearing new Syria exodus Turkey readies new refugee camp: reports

Syrian refugees who had fled Tal Abyad, re-enter with their belongings in Syria from Turkey on June 22, 2015, after Kurdish People's Protection Units took control of the area, in Tal Abyad town, Raqqa governorate, Syria. AFP PHOTO / UYGAR ONDER SIMSEK

ANKARA: Turkey's disaster management agency is readying a giant new refugee camp to house 55,000 people in the south of the country in anticipation of a new wave of migrants fleeing the civil war in Syria, reports said Wednesday.

The head of Turkey's disaster management agency, Fuad Oktay, was quoted by local media as saying that as many as 100,000 more refugees could arrive in a 24-hour time span, given the increasingly fragile security situation in Syria.

The new camp in the Turkish border town of Kilis is the largest yet to be built in Turkey, which is already hosting some 1.8 million refugees from the Syria conflict.

"A new camp to house 55,000 people is being readied in Kilis," Oktay, head of the AFAD agency, was quoted as saying by Milliyet daily.

"We would expect to receive 100,000 people in the first 24 hours in the case of a mass migration," he added.

Turkey's preparations come as concerns grow of a major escalation in the Syrian province of Aleppo that would include ISIS jihadis, rebels, government forces and Kurds.

Turkish press reports have said that Ankara is considering a large-scale military incursion inside Syrian territory to create a security zone several kilometers deep that would protect Turkey.

However, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has denied there is any such imminent plan.

Turkey has bitterly complained of the lack of help it has received from the West in housing the refugees, who have benefited from an "open door" policy championed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In January, the authorities opened what until now has been the country's biggest refugee camp housing some 35,000 Syrian refugees in the town of Suruc close to the flashpoint Syrian region of Kobani.

Turkey is accommodating several hundred thousand Syrians in refugee camps mainly in the southeast. But the vast majority of Syrian migrants live outside of the camps in major cities, where their presence has stoked tensions with locals.





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