Around 100,000 refugees expected to return to Syria from Turkey by end of 2017: Study

Around 100,000 refugees are expected to return to Syria from Turkey by the end of 2017, according to a project started as part of cooperation between the Family and Social Policies Ministry and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

A number of Syrian civilians returned to Syria after the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) Euphrates Shield Operation that started in August 2016 to clear around 2,000 square kilometers of the Syrian provinces of Azez, Mare and al-Bab of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Up to now, 70,000 Syrians have returned to these cleared provinces and 100,000 more refugees are expected to return by the end of 2017.

The project overseen by the ministry and the UNHCR also aims to normalize daily life in al-Bab. Accordingly, infrastructure works, the opening of bakery shops, the providing of clean water, the maintaining of education services, and the repairing of state-run buildings like hospitals and schools are all part of the project.

A number of teachers, nurses, doctors, digger operators, highway workers and crews from the Disaster Management Agency (AFAD) will be sent to the area from Turkey by the end of this September.

After the completion of construction and security works, 100,000 Syrian refugees will return to al-Bab by the end of this year, according to officials. Some 20,000 of those who have already returned to their country since the Euphrates Shield Operation are reportedly located in al-Bab.

As part of the project, psychological support is also given to Syrian women, children and families who are planning to return to Syria.

Specialists also told refugees about some possible challenges which could be face when they returned to Syria.

Meanwhile, the other part of the project aims to increase the integration of the estimated 3.5 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.

Accordingly, Syrian refugees are informed about the danger of polygamy and child marriage, as well as the importance of women’s rights, with leaflets prepared by the ministry in Arabic and Turkish.

Leaflets teaching refugees laws about legal marriage, marital rape, violence against women, domestic violence, and referral mechanisms for those who witness human trafficking and violence have also been prepared.

Meanwhile, an academic study prepared by Hacettepe University in Ankara about Syrian students in Turkey showed that 27 percent of them are not planning to return to Syria.

Around 14,700 Syrian students in Turkey and 120 academics were involved in preparation of the study.

Some 27 percent of respondents said they would “never” go back to Syria, while 52 percent said they could go back to Syria once the civil war comes to an end.

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