Some 50,000 Syrians have not returned to Turkey after going home to celebrate the Islamic holidays, said Abdullah Ayaz, Turkey’s deputy director general of Migration Management, according to the state-owned Anadolu news agency.
He said even though returns to Turkey would still continue after Eid al-Adha, a large number of Syrians would remain in their homeland.
Ayaz said 153,258 Syrians residing in Turkey went home during Eid al-Fitr.
Muslims across the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival that follows the fasting month of Ramadan.
“Around 15 percent of Syrians who left Turkey during the holidays in 2017 did not return to our country, and 57 percent of those who left in 2018 did not return,” Ayaz said.
A total of 252,000 Syrians returned to their country thanks to Turkey’s military offensives in northern Syria, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, Ayaz said.
Ayaz went on to say that in 2017, the number of those who left for the holidays and did not return to Turkey was over 40,000.
Ayaz also responded to criticism regarding the exit permit given to Syrians.
“The number of Syrians who didn’t return to Turkey has shown that the opportunity given to them due to the Islamic holidays was the right thing to do,” he said.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating civil war that began in 2011. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict and millions more displaced, according to the UN.
Turkey currently hosts nearly 3.5 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.