Turkey slams claims that it is sending Syrians back

Turkey on Sunday vigorously denied claims that Syrian refugees are being forcibly returned to their country.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

58 year old Syrian refugee Varde Haci (R-2), who lost her 2 daughters and son in laws during the conflict in Syria, lives with her 20 grandchildren, son and daughters in Turkey's Gaziantep Province. Picture taken on March 4.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has said in a statement that claims by Amnesty International - which have been repeated by various media organisations - that Syrian refugees have been repatriated are wholly untrue.

The ministry said that Turkey has been applying an "open-door" policy for Syrians fleeing the civil war for more than five years and that the country meticulously respects the principle of non-refoulement under its international obligations.

Non-refoulement is an international legal principle which forbids the rendering of victims of persecution to their persecutors.

The statement added that Turkey hosts at least 2.7 million Syrians and provides 270,000 Syrians in 26 provisional accommodation centers with food, health, and education services as well as psychological support, vocational education, and social activities.

Meanwhile, Syrians living outside these centers benefit from health and education services free of charge, said the ministry.

In addition, in January Turkey cleared the way for Syrians to get work permits.

"Turkey is the largest refugee-hosting country in the world and this obviously shows that Turkey respects the 'non-refoulement' principle meticulously," said the statement, adding that Syrians are neither encouraged nor obliged to return.

Turkey is determined to provide Syrians fleeing violence and instability in their country with security, said the ministry.

Syria has remained locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than 250,000 people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN figures.

The conflict in Syria has now driven more than 4 million people – a sixth of the country’s population – to seek sanctuary in neighbouring countries, causing the largest refugee crisis in a quarter of a century, according to the UN.

TRTWorld, AA