Serious allegations against the Turkish government

Ankara denies Syrian refugees entry and blocks aid deliveries to Kurdish-Syrian territories (Press Release)

Icon: A syrian woman at a makeshift camp in Suruc, south-eastern Turkey. Photo: © European Commission DG Echo via Flickr

On Monday, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accused the Turkish government of inhumane treatment, not only of Syrian refugees from Aleppo who are currently waiting at the Syrian-Turkish border in the open and in the cold: “As Turkey has still not opened the border crossing for aid supplies, the situation for the Syrian refugees in the Kurdish of Afrin in northwestern Syria and for the local population is getting quite problematic,” criticized the STP.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the situation at the closed Syrian-Turkish border crossing Bab al-Salam is dramatic. Tens of thousands of Syrians from Aleppo, who fled from the fighting between Assad’s troops and radical Islamist militias, have been waiting for the border to be opened for days.

In the Kurdish-controlled autonomous region of Afrin in northern Syria, 350 refugee families have recently found shelter in the refugee camp Robar alone. About 2,000 families are living there now altogether. According to estimates, around 25,000 Arab-Sunni refugees from the embattled villages north of Aleppo have found shelter in Afrin since February 3 – and at least 300,000 Arab refugees have sought refuge there since 2012.

For civilians, it has become much more difficult to find a way across the border between Afrin and Turkey, which is approximately 100-kilometer long. “The Turkish government is trying to prevent the establishment of an autonomous region in Afrin similar to other predominantly Kurdish regions of northern Syria, so the people in Afrin – Kurds, Arabs, Yezidis, Sunnis and Alawites – are left to starve,” criticized Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East consultant. Next to Kobani and Cazire, Afrin is one of three predominantly Kurdish regions that have declared independence since 2012, against the resistance of the Syrian regime and the Islamist opposition. Afrin is encircled, under constant threats by various radical Islamist groups. About 800,000 people are living there.

Turkey has admitted about 2.5 million refugees from Syria. “Most of them are making a living as cheap laborers,” said Sido. The STP has received many reports about minors who try to support their families by taking on work illegally, often under appalling conditions. Thus, a Syrian girl who found refuge in Göttingen recently reported that she had often worked for 18 hours a day while she was in Turkey. “Because of the expensive rents and high costs of living in Turkey, refugees who are able to work and are offered a job will accept just about any conditions.”

Header Photo: European Commission DG Echo via Flickr