800 Syrian Refugees Return Each Week From Turkey, but Conditions Not Suitable for All
About 800 Syrian refugees are returning to their country from Turkey each week, according to the Turkey representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But Philippe Leclerc, speaking to Reuters from Istanbul, said that the conditions in Syria are not suitable for “a mass voluntary return movement these days.” The Turkish government is working to repatriate many of the 3.7 million Syrian refugees that it is hosting, in large part due to public sentiment turning against the refugees. Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last month that he will send one million Syrian refugees back to their home country to 100,000 cinderblock houses in the Idlib area of northeastern Syria. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Security Council on Monday to extend its approval of aid deliveries from Turkey to civilians in northwest Syria. The mandate for the aid deliveries expires on July 10. Guterres told the council that it “cannot give up on the people of Syria.” Some 800 trucks a month deliver aid from Turkey under the UN operation to northwest Syria, which is 80% populated by women and children. Syrian ally Russia says the cross-border aid violates Syrian sovereignty, and called for more aid to be delivered from within Syria. This has raised fears that the aid would fall under Syrian government control.