Syrians flee Islamic State onslaught; 130,000 refugees take shelter in Turkey

With the murderous onslaught of the Islamic State pushing the conflict close to Turkish border in Syria, the last couple of days have witnessed an unabated stream of refugees crossing into Turkey.

By Supriya Jha | Updated: Sep 22, 2014, 17:19 PM IST
Syrians flee Islamic State onslaught; 130,000 refugees take shelter in Turkey

Ankara: With the murderous onslaught of the Islamic State pushing the conflict close to Turkish border in Syria, the last couple of days have witnessed an unabated stream of refugees crossing into Turkey.

The number of refugees, mainly Syrian Kurds, to have escaped to Turkey in last few days is being pegged at 100,000, according to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

Syrian refugee crisis, that worsened during three-years of civil war, has only intensified recently with the Islamic State launching a sudden and murderous offensive across the war-torn country.

According to the UN refugee agency's estimates, some 3 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries, like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Out of those, over 8 lakh refugees have crossed into Turkey, according to the UN figures released on August 29.

Adding to it one lakh refugees more, the total number of Syrian refugees in Turkey is over 900, 000.

The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency is working with the UN refugee agency to accommodate the huge numbers of Syrians streaming.

Turkey has received a pat on its back by the UN refugee agency for its “willingness to receive the refugees” and is coordinating with the UNHCR to step up the relief efforts as the refugees continue to stream in.

Turkey opened its frontiers on Friday after Kurdish civilians were forced to flee the IS onslaught in the Syrian border town of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish.  According to the BBC, Turkey has now begun to close some of its border crossings with Syria after over 100,000 Kurdish refugees have surged in from Syria.

The town of Kobani , was earlier considered safer throughout the Syria conflict and as many as 200,000 internally displaced people from other parts of the country had found refuge here. But with the IS closing in on the town, tens of thousands, including large numbers of women, children and elderly, had to cross the border in Turkey's Sanliurfa province, the UNHRC said yesterday in a press release.

Commending Turkey for its “welcoming response” to the refugees, the UNHCR added that hundreds of thousands more embattled people are set to flee from Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) in coming days as the IS is seen inching closer to annex the Syrian border town of Kobani.

However according to a report in the Independent, questions are being raised on the surprise and mysterious release of 49 Turkish hostages by the IS this Saturday. It is unclear as to what secret deal with the extremists might have led to the return the hostages to Turkey and the report talks about the Turkish government being accused of colluding with the IS to oppose Syrian Kurds and Assad regime.

The doubts raised at Turkish government come as the release of Turkish hostages coincides with the influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey.

Syrian Kurd fighters are engaged in a fierce battle with the extremists near Kobani, where the IS are reported to have unleashed a heinous terror trail, setting homes ablaze, carrying out be headings, stonings and torture.

According to the Associated Press, the  IS are carrying out attacks at villages with tanks, artillery and multiple rocket launchers and are also targeting those trying to escape.

"They are even targeting civilians who are fleeing," Nasser Haj Mansour, a defense official in Syria's Kurdish region told The Associated Press.

Speaking at the Social Good Summit 2014, António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, commended Turkey for having received the refugees and highlighted theContent plight of refugees, mentioning the “tragic human story” hidden behind each refugee.

“Are we forgetting the individual when talk about refugees? Behind each person is tragic human story," said Guterres.

The UNHRC chief added how Syria crisis was a mega-crisis, expressing shock over “leaders who engage in conflicts & completely ignore the suffering of their people".