Turkey building refugee camps for Syrian Christians, Kurds

By REUTERS
April 10, 2013 17:22

Turkey is building two camps along its far southeastern border with Syria to house a growing number of refugees from Syrian minority groups, mainly Assyrian Christians as well as ethnic Kurds, a government official said on Wednesday.

More 250,000 Syrians fleeing civil war in their homeland have registered in Turkey, most of whom stay in 17 camps along the 900-km (560-mile) border, although Turkish leaders say the total number of refugees is closer to 400,000.

Those who have fled are predominantly ethnic Arabs from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, most of whom largely support the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad, who himself belongs to the Alawite minority of Shi'ite Islam.

Apart from housing refugees, Turkey, which also has a Sunni majority, has thrown its weight behind the rebels, giving them sanctuary, although it denies arming them. This has drawn accusations of sectarianism leveled at the government from Assad as well as Turkish minority groups and opposition parties.

Ankara strongly denies a sectarian or ethnic agenda.


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