ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey’s draft plan for a construction project to settle 1 million Syrian refugees in a “safe zone” in northeast Syria would cost around 151 billion lira ($27 billion), state broadcaster TRT Haber said on Friday.
President Tayyip Erdogan set out plans for the project in a speech at the United States General Assembly this week, holding up a map to show the zone which Turkey wants to set up with the United States, and where it says the refugees would be housed.
Turkey has pushed for the 20-mile (32 km) deep “safe zone” to be established along more than 400 km of its border with northeast Syria.
It initially said the aim of the zone was to drive back Syrian Kurdish YPG forces - which Ankara views as a security threat - from the border. It now says the region will also be used to settle 1 million of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey.
The two NATO allies have started joint land and air patrols in part of the border region, but Turkey says the United States is moving too slowly and has warned it could act unilaterally. President Tayyip Erdogan, returning from the United Nations this week, said he would evaluate what steps to take.
TRT Haber said foreign funds would be established to build a total of 200,000 homes. It was not immediately clear whether international funding would be made available for the project.
The European Union has promised 6 billion euros, most of which it says it has already disbursed, to support Turkey hosting refugees on its territory. Erdogan has said the EU aid has been slow and has called on France and Germany to provide additional financial aid for the project.
“I call on all countries to support our efforts regarding Syria,” Erdogan said in his speech at the General Assembly.
TRT Haber said on its website that the building project in the planned “safe zone” would involve construction of 140 villages with populations of 5,000 and 10 towns with 30,000 inhabitants. It published mock-up photos of housing projects set against the backdrop of a Syrian countryside.
Each town would also have hospitals, football pitches, alongside 6,000 homes, 11 mosques, nine schools, and other facilities, it said.
($1 = 5.6665 liras)
Reporting by Daren Butler, editing by Louise Heavens