Turkey promises 100,000 houses for Syrians displaced by war

Turkey promises 100,000 houses for Syrians displaced by war


Turkey on Sunday vowed to complete the construction of 100,000 houses in war-torn Syria, while Ankara is pushing to resettle Syrian refugees who have fled more than a decade of pre-election fighting.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Sunday during a visit to open 600 simple houses in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib region that 75,000 houses had been built over the past two years.

“By the end of the year we will complete 100,000…houses,” Soylu said at the ceremony in the newly constructed settlement of rows of brick bungalows in Mashhad Ruhin, near the Turkish border.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said in recent months he wants to encourage one million of the country’s 3.7 million Syrian refugees to return home by building them housing and providing basic infrastructure.

Ahead of next year’s Turkish presidential election, the presence of refugees has become a sensitive political issue, especially as Ankara is mired in an economic crisis.

Syria’s civil war began in 2011 with the regime’s brutal repression of mostly peaceful protesters, and millions have been forced to flee and have now been displaced at home and abroad.

Ankara and militias it supports have seized tracts of land along the Syrian border in several military operations since 2016.

Turkey says it wants to create a “security zone” along its border to prevent war-displaced Syrians from crossing the border and to send back some of the millions who have already done so.

Erdogan said more than half a million Syrians who fled to Turkey have returned to these safe zones.

More than 500 families are now living in the newly opened settlement in Mashhar Ruhin, with 100 more expected to arrive in the coming days, the latest in a series of Ankara-sponsored housing projects.

Hadiya Al-Taha, 70, was living in a tent with her daughter after fleeing fighting in southern Idlib four years ago.

“Apartment blocks are better than tents, you can’t compare them at all,” she says, as she brings her meager belongings of mattresses, blankets and a few household items into the house.

But she still misses her original home and farm.

“Our village house was the best,” she said.

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