Turkey said on Sunday that at least 10,633 Syrian refugees in the country have returned to their homeland voluntarily after the devastating earthquakes that hit southern Turkey earlier this month.
“Our Syrian brothers, who lost their families and places of stay in the earthquake, returned to their lands voluntarily,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said during his visit to the military border outposts in the quake-hit southern province of Hatay, Xinhua News Agency reported quoting Anadolu Agency.
The minister refuted the allegations that Syrians were flooding into the Turkish border after the massive earthquakes which also hit northern Syria, the semi-official Anadolu Agency reported.
“These claims are completely untrue. There is no crossing from the border gate or the borderline. We received information from the relevant authorities and conducted on-site investigations. Contrary to the claim that there is an intense crossing to Turkey, they stated that Syrian citizens pass from Turkey to Syria in one direction,” the Anadolu quoted Akar as saying.
Turkey hosts nearly 3.5 million Syrian refugees that fled their country after a civil war erupted in 2011. Nearly half of the refugees have been taking shelter in southern Turkey which was recently hit by devastating quakes that have caused tremendous destruction in the region.
More than 46,000 people have died in Turkey and Syria since twin 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes struck the Turkish southern province of Kahramanmaras on February 6.