Burak Bir and Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) – Turkiye, which hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country in the world, plans to build 200,000 homes in northern Syria for some one-fourth of the refugees to voluntarily resettle, the Turkish president announced on Monday.
"With financing from international aid groups, we’ve been working on a project to construct 200,000 homes in 13 different places inside Syria to relocate 1 million Syrian refugees living in Turkiye, including schools and hospitals," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in the capital Ankara after a Cabinet meeting.
No one should doubt that the number of Syrians in Turkiye will fall to reasonable numbers as long as they are provided the necessary opportunities for voluntary returns, he added.
Turkiye currently hosts some 4 million refugees from the 11-year Syrian civil war.
In recent years, the Turkish military has worked to make areas of northern Syria near Turkiye safe to resettle, while Turkish agencies and aid groups have built schools, hospitals, and other elements of functional communities. Erdogan’s plan is like an expanded version of those efforts.
- Foreigners in Turkiye follow rules or face deportation
Saying that all foreigners in Turkiye are subject to certain rules on living and working regardless of their countries of origin, Erdogan stated that those who do not comply with these rules are deported.
"The number of Syrians deported in this way has exceeded 20,000, and the number of other nationalities is over 21,000," he added.
The main goal of a significant percentage of irregular migrants coming to Turkiye is actually to get to Europe, he noted.
Meanwhile, the number of Ukrainians have sought shelter in Turkiye amid the two-and-a-half-month-old war has neared 100,000, noted Erdogan.
Syria has been embroiled in civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.
According to official UN numbers, over 350,000 people lost their lives in the conflict but human rights groups estimate the death toll at half a million or higher.
Over 14 million had to flee their homes, becoming refugees or internally displaced, according to the EU.