Syrian refugees don’t trust Assad, call for UN intervention

Syrian refugees don’t trust Assad, call for UN intervention

Syrian refugees take shelter in containers at a Turkish refugee camp in the border town of Kilis. (Photo: AA)

April 12, 2012, Thursday/ 18:33:00/ SERVET YANATMA

Syrian refugees, who have fled the ongoing year-old clashes in the country between the Syrian government and the opposition forces, say they don’t trust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and have called for UN intervention. Assad, who accepted the UN’s six-point peace plan, has ceased the violence in the country for now.

Syrian refugees, who are being accommodated in a prefabricated city in Kilis province, told Today’s Zaman that they believe that Assad will not comply with the peace plan. Stating that they want to return to their motherland, they said the UN should intervene and the Assad regime should be overthrown.

A 40-year-old Syrian from Idlib, who declined to be named, said he had lost his three family members in the violence. He also added: “Because we were afraid of being killed by Assad’s soldiers, we decided to escape to Turkey. Assad’s troops were firing at us randomly. I know Assad will continue his killings despite the cease-fire. I wish the UN would do something about Assad’s brutal regime.”

Another Syrian refugee, Hazim Haccer, said he came to Turkey because he was afraid of being killed but that his brother was a soldier in Assad’s army. “My parents are still there. It doesn’t matter who intervenes in the country, but Assad has to be overthrown,” he commented.

Azize Dev, a 65-year-old refugee, said her children were still in Syria and she wanted to see them again. She thanked Turkey for providing security and accommodation for the refugees.

While most of the Syrian refugees who have escaped to Turkey are being accommodated in a refugee tent city in Hatay province, there are about 10,000 refugees living in a prefabricated city in Kilis province.

There are strict security measures in place at the prefabricated city. Nobody has been allowed in except state officials. Even journalists had been barred from entering until yesterday. Today’s Zaman became one of the first two dailies which gained the opportunity to enter the prefabricated city. Every corner is being monitored by the Turkish security forces and the area is regularly patrolled to ensure the security of the refugees.

The capacity of the city, which is constructed over 350,000 square meters, is 12,000, and there are currently 9,300 Syrian refugees living there. However, this number is increasing daily as the violence in Syria escalates.

All social, sanitation, accommodation and food facilities are provided by the Turkish state. The city consists of five separate neighborhood units, which are divided by barbed wire fences. People in each unit determine their spokesman and all the interaction between the refugees and the Turkish officials is done through these individuals. Each neighborhood unit has its own patrol, fire department, post office and supermarket. There is a 550-square-meter social center which contains a kindergarten, adult education center and television rooms.

The prefabricated houses in which the refugees are living contain all the necessary elements. There is a living room, kitchen and bathroom. There are six beds provided in each house and hot water available 24 hours a day. In addition to this, three meals a day are provided to the refugees.

There are also some public facilities such as two schools, a healthcare center and a mosque. A hospital and sports center will be ready in the coming days. The Directorate of Public Education Center is planning to provide various training and vocational courses for Syrian women at the city. A total of 3,500 of the 9,300 Syrian refugees are children. They are attending school but there are not enough teachers who can speak Arabic. Officials are currently working on resolving this problem.

The Syrian refugees seem to have adapted to their new environment easily. Turkish officials avoid disturbing the daily routines of the refugees. The refugees carry on with their daily lives without any interference; adult refugees go shopping and working while the children play games and attend school. There are also some refugees who have started running their own small businesses, including barbershops, grocery stores and outdoor tea shops.

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