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Sudden refugee influx of Syrians into Turkey: UNHCR steps up relief and commends Turkey for response

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Sudden refugee influx of Syrians into Turkey: UNHCR steps up relief and commends Turkey for response

20 September 2014

UNHCR is stepping up its response to help the Government of Turkey come to the aid of an estimated 70,000 Syrians who crossed into Turkey, many in the past 24 hours. Turkish government authorities and UNHCR are preparing for the possibility of hundreds of thousands more refugees arriving over the coming days, as the battle for the northern Syrian city of Kobani, (or Ayn al-Arab) forces more people to flee.

"I commend Turkey's welcoming response to offer refuge and aid to this population so suddenly and violently driven from their homes in fear for their lives," said António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "This massive influx shows how important it is to offer and preserve asylum space for Syrians as well as the need to mobilize international support to the neighboring countries so generously hosting them."

Throughout the Syria conflict, the city of Kobani was living in relative safety, and as many as 200,000 internally displaced people from other parts of the country had found refuge there. But with recent ISIS advances and a siege of the city, large numbers of the population, mainly from Syria's Kurdish minority, were forced to abandon their homes and seek protection and safety across the border in Turkey's Sanliurfa province. UNHCR teams are reporting large numbers of women, children and elderly among the refugees.

At the start of the influx, UNHCR responded with immediate supplies of relief items in the past 24 hours, including 20 trucks with 20,000 blankets, 10,000 mats, 5,000 jerry cans, 2,000 plastic sheets. UNHCR has also donated mobile registration and coordination centers and staff are positioned at the six border crossing points monitoring arrivals and identifying vulnerable persons.

Meanwhile, the Government of Turkey is accelerating the construction of two camps, with the support of UNHCR, for those who are not being hosted by the local communities and relatives. UNHCR is also preparing an air, sea and land emergency relief response to offer a supply thermal blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets as well as help to rapidly set up and run registration centers.

Media contacts for this story:

Melissa Fleming +41 79 557 9122
Selin Unal +90 530 282 7862