UN appeal as Syrian refugees flood over Turkish border

UN appeal as Syrian refugees flood over Turkish border

Syrian refugees wait to cross border into Turkey. 22 Sept 2014Thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing fighting have massed at the Turkish border

The UN refugee agency says Turkey urgently needs help to care for 130,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border in recent days.

The UNHCR said this was the largest influx in such a short period since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

The Syrian Kurds are fleeing an advance by Islamic State (IS) militants, who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months.

IS fighters are reported to be closing in on the Syrian town of Kobane.

The capture of Kobane, also known as Ayn al-Arabon, would give the jihadists complete control of the area.

Even before the latest influx, Turkey was struggling to cope with more than a million Syrian refugees who have crossed into its territory since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began more than three years ago.

Carol Batchelor, the UNHCR’s envoy in Turkey, told the BBC that such high numbers of refugees would place a strain on any host community.


Mark Lowen, BBC News, southern Turkey

The sheer number of refugees would overwhelm any country.

Added to that, they are Kurds from Syria, many of them deeply hostile to Turkey. For 30 years, Turkish forces fought Kurdish rebels in a civil war that killed 40,000 people.

The fact that Turkey is accepting tens of thousands of Kurds is a sign of how allegiances are being forced to change with the onslaught of Islamic State. But deep-seated tension between Kurds and Turks have again come to the surface, leading to border clashes on Sunday.

Turkey fears that Kurds will cross into Syria to join the Kurdish militia. The worry is that, renewed by fresh recruits, it could ally with the outlawed PKK and launch attacks on Turkish soil.

All the regional complexities, added to the refugee influx, make for a precarious situation here.


She called for “increased solidarity and international assistance” for those flooding across the border.

“The situation is deepening. It’s becoming protracted. People are desperately in need,” she added.

Ms Batchelor said food, blankets and winter clothing – particularly for children – were needed.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said his country was preparing for “the worst case scenario” – an influx of hundreds of thousands more refugees.

“I hope that we are not faced with a more populous refugee wave but if we are, we have taken precautions. If necessary, we have planned how to send these people to safer and further places,” he said.

Turkish soldier stands guard as Syrian refugees wait to cross border in Suruc, Turkey. 21 Sept 2014Turkish troops are trying to control the flood of refugees, and stop Kurdish fighters crossing into Syria

On Sunday, Turkish troops fired tear gas at the Syrian border, as Mark Lowen reports

Anwar Muslim, president of the Kobane regional government, told the BBC that Kurdish fighters had inflicted heavy casualties on IS and pushed the militants back.

He accused the group of killing women, children and the elderly.

“All our ministers, like ordinary people, have picked up arms. Our people believe we can defeat IS. Our morale is high,” he said.

Border clashesOn Friday, Turkey opened a 30km (19 mile) section of its south-west border to Syrian Kurds fleeing Kobane.

Clashes then broke out on Sunday after protests by Kurds on the Turkish side of the border, some waving banners of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The BBC’s Mark Lowen, at the scene, said Turkish forces were trying to stop Kurdish fighters from entering Syria to take part in the defence of Kobane.

By Monday only two out of nine border posts in the area remained open, the UNHCR said.

Turkish forces clash with pro-Kurdish protesters in Suruc. 22 Sept 2014Turkish forces have used water cannon and tear gas against pro-Kurdish protesters near the border
Map shows Iraq and Syria, areas under IS control

Our correspondent says the Syrian conflict has reawakened old hostilities and shaken a fragile peace between Kurds and Turkish authorities.

The PKK, a banned militant group that fought a civil war for autonomy within Turkey for decades, has called on Kurds to join the fight against IS.

PKK-affiliated forces have been battling IS in northern Iraq for months.

In other developments:

  • The White House said it had rejected an Iranian proposal to support the US-led fight against IS in return for flexibility on its controversial uranium enrichment programme
  • At least 40 Iraqi soldiers were killed and 68 captured in an attack on the town of Sijir, near Falluja, on Sunday, a senior Iraqi commander said
  • A Syrian government air strike killed at least 42 civilians in rebel-held territory in the north-western province of Idlib on Sunday, activists said
  • IS issued a statement urging its supporters to kill “disbelievers” from the countries that have joined a international coalition against the group

The US has said it will attack the group in Syria, though so far it has carried out air strikes against IS only in Iraq.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France would not launch air strikes against IS in Syria despite having attacked the group in northern Iraq last week.

Tony Blair: ” Isis… kill without mercy and they’re prepared to die without regret”

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told the BBC on Sunday that air strikes alone might not be enough to contain the group.

“If necessary, we shouldn’t rule out the use of, particularly, special force capabilities,” he said.

US President Barack Obama previously ruled out the involvement of US ground troops, and has instead promised to provide arms and training to local forces fighting against IS.

Mangalyaan will send colour images of Mars from Wednesday

BANGALORE: Following the successful re-firing of the main liquid engine of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft for a minor trajectory change on Monday, Isro is planning to activate the colour camera payload and get the first images of the red planet by Wednesday afternoon.

With Monday’s success, the possibility of MOM acquiring the desired orbit around Mars on Wednesday has reached near 100 per cent. With respect to this, scientific secretary V Koteswara Rao told TOI: “Soon after the Mars orbit insertion operations on Wednesday is complete and things settle down, we will have the images transmitted back to earth. We are looking at afternoon.”

The images, once transmitted will be received by Isro’s Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) in Byalalu, Karnataka.

Explaining Monday’s operations, he said: “The whole thing happened on the dot. There was not even a minor deviation from our plan. The spacecraft, and the engine are in great health, giving us a lot of confidence for Wednesday.”




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