About 800 Syrians return from Turkey every week – UN Refugee Agency official

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Turkey hosts around 3.7 million Syrians, the largest refugee population in the world, but worsening public opinion has led the government to work on plans to send them back.

Around 800 Syrian refugees are returning to their country from Turkey every week, but conditions are not suitable for large numbers of voluntary returns, an official with the UN refugee agency said.

Turkey hosts around 3.7 million Syrians, the largest refugee population in the world, but worsening public opinion has led the government to work on plans to send them back.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s government has announced plans to settle around 1 million Syrians in cinderblock houses to be built in the northwest of the country.

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The plans have not attracted international support, and Turkey’s representative to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday that conditions in Syria are not conducive to the return of many refugees.

“The level of uncertainty in Syria does not allow for a massive voluntary return movement these days,” Philippe Leclerc told Reuters in an interview in Istanbul.

He said around 800 Syrians, mostly single people, return every week to various parts of northern Syria, but most Syrians believe they will stay in Turkey as their economic conditions are more favorable than in Syria. .

“Naturally people believe their future is in Turkey rather than Syria given the very little progress we have seen,” he said, saying political, social and economic conditions in Syria were deteriorating. .

UKRAINE

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Leclerc said separately that it was important for Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations to work on the export of Ukrainian grain to overcome the negative impacts of food security issues around the world.

A de facto Russian blockade has led to a halt in food exports from Ukraine, one of the world’s main sources of grain and edible oil, sparking international concerns about global shortages and hunger.

The United Nations is trying to broker a deal to resume Ukrainian and Russian food and fertilizer exports, which Moscow says are being harmed by the sanctions.

Leclerc said rising grain prices are aggravating food security issues around the world, especially in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

“It is important that the United Nations, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey try to work on the possibility of exporting Ukrainian cereals – whether by sea or by land via Romania,” Leclerc said.

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Russia has said it has offered “safe passage” for Ukrainian grain shipments from Black Sea ports, but is not responsible for establishing the corridors and Turkey has suggested ships could be guided around the sea ​​mines.

Leclerc said 145,000 Ukrainians had arrived in Turkey since the Russian invasions, and 10,000 had received residence permits out of the 20,000 who already had them. Another 5,000 people have applied for international protection, Leclerc added.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Tuvan Gumrukcu)

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