While tens of thousands of Syrian refugees find shelter in densely populated refugee camps on the Turkish border, wealthy Syrians who can afford to rent houses, are dwelling in the southern province of Hatay, reviving brotherly ties between the two nations.
Turkish shopkeepers expressed their solidarity with the Syrian refugees assuring them that their support will continue until the war is over.
“For the time being, everything is on track, they (Syrian refugees) are our brothers and sisters. Who would like to see their neighbor in trouble? We hope that the war will be over soon and everybody will return home safely, but until the end of the war, we will live together with them in peace,” said a Turkish shopkeeper.
Syrian refugee Abdulbaset expressed his satisfaction with the Turkish hospitality, but complained about the rising prices of house rentals.
“We have good relations with Turkish people. There is no conflict between us, but some people, landlords, only a few of them, are trying to take advantage of the situation as more and more people are renting houses here. So some raised the prices from 250 Turkish Liras ($140) to 700 Turkish Liras ($390) and then to 1,000 Liras ($555). These prices are somehow high. But not all the landlords are doing this, only a 3 or 4 percent of them are. Everything else is good. We are all brothers and we will remain so despite of the Syrian regime efforts to separate us,” Abdulbaset said.
“When Syrian people started to come to Reyhanli we welcomed them warmly, as they are our brothers and we are all Muslims. We did our best to host them. As local shopkeepers, we can observe the ordeal of Syrians who have fled the cruelty at their own (country) and sheltered here, seeking a sanctuary,” added another Turkish shopkeeper.
Some 6,500 displaced Syrians massed near Bab al-Salam border across Oncupinar crossing in southeastern province of Kilis, awaiting for new camps to be built. But wealthy Syrians who have passports and can afford to rent houses, crossed into Turkey without having to wait for accommodation.
“We have good relations with the Turkish people and their help is noticeable. We have our passports and we are here on legal grounds, renting houses, and everything is fine,” said Syrian refugee Ahmed.
Turkey hosts more than 80,000 Syrians who fled violence in camps located in various provinces in southeastern Turkey but those camps are full to capacity and they are inadequate to shelter thousands of refugees awaiting near the border.
The growing exodus of Syrian refugees pouring into Turkey and other neighboring states is pushing for the creation of a secure zone inside the war-torn country; with the U.N. warning of further mass flight as fighting intensifies.
The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday (Aug. 28) that up to 200,000 Syrian refugees could flee to Turkey if the conflict in Syria continues to deepen, almost three times the current number registered in a country already struggling to cope.
Turkey urged the United Nations on Wednesday (Aug. 29) to protect displaced Syrians inside their country but President Bashar al-Assad, battling rebels determined to overthrow him, dismissed talk of a buffer zone on Syrian territory.
Ankara fears a mass influx such as the flight of half a million Iraqi Kurds into Turkey after the 1991 Gulf War, and has floated the idea of a "safe zone" under foreign protection within Syria for civilians fleeing intensifying violence.
Ankara has also warned it could run out of space if the number of refugees goes above 100,000.
Foreign ministers are expected to discuss the possibility of establishing a “safe zone” inside Syria at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Thursday (Aug. 30).