More than 90,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey to cross into Syria for Eid
More than 90,000 Syrian refugees residing in Turkey are expected to return to their country after three border crossings were reopened by Turkish authorities for the occasion of the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday this month.
The Bab al-Salam and Jarabulus border crossings were opened on Monday after Turkey gave the green light. The Bab al-Hawa crossing opened on Tuesday.
The crossings had been closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The reopenings saw many Syrians returning to parts of north-western Syria controlled by Ankara-backed groups.
Muhammad al-Atarbi, media official at the Jarablus border crossing told The New Arab’s sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Monday that 421 Syrians had already entered the country on the first day.
This number included 126 dual Syrian-Turkish citizens and four others who voluntarily gave up on their temporary protection “Kimlik” card issued by Turkish authorities, ending their right to return to Turkey, al-Atarbi said.
As many as 20,000 to 25,000 people will travel to Syria for the holiday period, he added.
Hassan Muhammad, media official at the Bab al-Salam border crossing said that 147 people had crossed on the first day. He told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that between 35,000 and 40,000 Syrians are expected to use the crossing.
"There are buses equipped to transport families free of charge from the Turkish side to the immigration hall at the Salama crossing," Muhammad said.
"When the families arrive at the immigration department, personal papers and reservations are checked, and then visitors are registered in the program for the Syrian crossing, with an entry paper stamped for each person or family to be confirmed upon return to Turkish territory to avoid fraud,” he continued.
Mazen Alloush, head of media relations at Bab al-Hawa, said the borders will remain open until July 18.
“The Syrians in Turkey used to spend their Eid holidays (in Syria)… but due to the coronavirus, there were no holidays last year and on Eid al-Fitr,” he said.
Unlike the other border crossings, Alloush said the number of people returning to Syria via Bab al-Hawa will be limited to 3,000 people a day, and about 35,000 in total.
Turkey currently hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, according to the UNHCR.
The decade-long conflict in Syria has forced millions of Syrians to seek refuge abroad, and millions of others are internally displaced.