ANKARA, Mar 28 (NNN-SANA) – Nearly 60,000 Syrian refugees have returned to their homeland, after the Feb earthquakes devastated their homes in Türkiye, a Turkish cabinet minister said.
“Around 60,000 Syrians living in Türkiye have returned to their homeland, due to the loss of their homes and relatives,” Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, said on the borderline of the quake-hit southern province of Hatay.
The minister refuted claims that, there was an influx of refugees from Syria, stressing that the Turkish border was strictly protected against illegal crossings.
“The allegations of illegal crossing through the border do not reflect the truth. Our borders are protected, guarded and watched day and night, by the most intense measures in the history of the republic, with state-of-the-art technology vehicles and equipment on a 24/7 basis,” Akar explained.
Türkiye shelters over 3.6 million Syrians, and is the world’s largest refugee-hosting country, granting many of them access to social services, residency, and employment permits.
The Turkish government last year banned Syrian refugees with temporary protection permits, to make round-trips between the two neighbouring countries, to encourage a thorough return to their homeland.
Following the earthquakes, however, the Turkish government loosened restrictions on refugees’ internal travel, to make it easier for them to settle in camps and localities outside the disaster zones.
Turkish authorities begin to allow Syrian refugees residing in 11 quake-hit provinces to voluntarily return to northern Syria, and then come back to Türkiye as long as they do not spend longer than six months away.
The refugees are able to cross through the Bab al-Hawa, Bab al-Salam, and Jarablus border crossings.
More than 50,000 people are confirmed dead, in the massive earthquakes that hit both Türkiye and Syria on Feb 6, the worst disaster the region has seen in a century.– NNN-SANA