Turkey unveils plans to return one million refugees to war-torn Syria's Idlib, says Erdogan
Turkey announced it will draft plans to return one million Syrian refugees back to their country, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.
Erdogan made the announcement in a video message during an inauguration ceremony marking the delivery of new homes in Turkish-backed Idlib, northeastern Syria, reported the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
57,000 houses for around 50,000 families have already been constructed in the Idlib area so far, according to the Turkish president, who is aiming to build 100,000 homes in total to "lessen the suffering of our Syrian brothers and sisters".
"Accordingly, we intend to build self-sufficient residential areas which will include economic and social infrastructure for 1 million Syrian refugees, which Turkey currently hosts," he added.
Erdogan intends to return the refugees, who have displaced by years of conflict, to the areas of Azaz, Jarablus, Al-Bab, Tal Abyad and Ras Al-Ayn, reported Bloomberg.
The building project, which is overseen by Turkey’s disaster management authority, intends to include facilities such as mosques, schools and health centres, among others.
The project is conducted with the aid of several local and international NGOs.
Turkey hosts around 3.7 million Syrian refugees, all of whom have been fleeing conflict in their homeland since 2011.
Syrians face widespread discrimination in Turkey, which is currently gearing up for presidential elections in June next year.
Politicians increasingly exploit the hostility and racism faced by Syrian refugees when campaigning, and often used them as scapegoats as the country grapples with a worsening economic crisis, amid rising inflations as the lira continues to suffer.
Opposition leader and presidential hopeful Kemal Kilicdaroglu has "vowed" to return Syrian refugees home if elected in 2023.
Several refugees have also been rounded up and forcibly deported to Syrian war zones, which has been decried by humanitarian groups who insist Syria remains unsafe and dangerous for refugees.