Thousands of Syrian refugees who travelled to Turkey’s northwestern province of Edirne continue to wait there despite heavy rain in the city for the last two days.
The refugees, who have been camping in stadium where a tournament for traditional Turkish oil-wrestling is held every year, were not able to stay in their tents. Instead, most of them spend the night sitting in covered grandstand of the stadium.
The refugees began marching on Sept. 16 towards Edirne, which borders both Greece and Bulgaria, in order to try to enter Europe by land after a number of refugee boats recently capsized at sea between Turkey and Greece, killing over 100 people in total.
However, the refugees were not allowed to enter the city, and were stopped by Turkish security forces because no European country wishes to take the refugees.
Giving up on crossing to Europe by foot and placated by Turkish authorities, some of the refugees returned to the camps in Turkey’s southern provinces of Adana, Sanliurfa and Gaziantep while others chose to remain in the city until they are allowed into Europe.
Now that a deadline given by Edirne Governor Ali Sahin for the refugees to leave the city has expired, the governor said that the refugees cannot stay in Edirne and they will be transferred to other provinces by the time of Eid-ul-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice).
Sahin also stated that a group of 1,500 Syrians, including women, children and infants, departed for other provinces throughout Turkey on Tuesday.
The refugees protested to governor Sahin and again stated their wish to go to European countries on Tuesday.
Talking with the refugees, Sahin said that the city has been hosting refugees for ten days and the authorities are willing to send the refugees to any Turkish city of their choice.
Reminding the refugees that Greek and Bulgarian authorities have strengthened their countries' borders Sahin promised that if any of the European countries accept refugees, the Turkish authorities will send them first.
“Greece and Bulgaria deployed their soldiers to the borders in order to prevent you from entering. You are our responsibility now. We do not want you to suffer. We will make a record of your names, including your identification details and where you are from, as well as where you have been living. We will send you to places you want to go, not to refugee camps” Sahin continued.
Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled Syria in large numbers following the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012. One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which hosts over 2 million Syrian refugees according to registration records from the United Nations.