GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations refugee agency said on Thursday it was very worried by reports of mass deportations of Syrians from Turkey and said it had taken up the issue with Turkish authorities.
Turkish officials said that Turkey sent hundreds of refugees back to Syria after clashes with military police at their camp near the border in a protest over living conditions, although a government official later denied this and said that 50-60 Syrians had returned voluntarily.
“UNHCR is very concerned with reports of a serious incident and allegations of possible deportations from Akcakale tent city in the past 24 hours,” Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told Reuters.
Its office in Turkey was seeking further information about both the incident on Wednesday and the alleged deportations, and was in direct contact with Turkish authorities, she said.
Refugees threw rocks at military police who fired teargas and water cannon in the unrest in the Suleymansah camp, near the Turkish town of Akcakale, on Wednesday.
Since the revolt in Syria began two years ago, more than 1.2 million Syrians fleeing violence and persecution have registered as refugees or await processing in neighboring countries and North Africa, the UNHCR says. They include 261,635 in Turkey, mostly staying in 17 camps, many of them teeming.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, edited by Richard Meares