United Nations, Sep 23 (IANS) The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been stepping up assistance to the Turkish government to aid an estimated 130,000 Syrian Kurds who have crossed into Turkey since last Friday, the United Nations spokesman said Monday.
“The Turkish authorities and UNHCR are preparing for the possibility of hundreds of thousands more refugees arriving in the coming days, as the battle for the northern Syrian city of Kobani and surrounding areas forces more people to flee,” Xinhua quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying.
“The government of Turkey is accelerating the construction of two camps, with the support of UNHCR, for those who are not being hosted by the local communities and relatives,” Dujarric said.
“UNHCR is also preparing an air, sea and land emergency relief response to offer a supply of thermal blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets, as well as help to rapidly set up and run registration centers,” he added.
Throughout the Syria conflict that erupted in 2011, the city of Kobani was relatively safe and untouched, and as many as 200,000 internally displaced people from other parts of the country had found refuge there.
But with recent siege of the city by the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist group, large numbers of the population, mainly from Syria’s Kurdish minority, were forced to abandon their homes and seek safety in Turkey.
Among the refugees are large numbers of women, children and older people, the UNHCR reported.
At the start of the influx, the UNHCR responded with immediate supplies of relief items, including 20,000 blankets. The agency also donated mobile registration and coordination centres, and staff are positioned at the six border crossing points monitoring arrivals and identifying vulnerable people.