Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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SYRIAN REFUGEES HEAD HOME ON FOOT FROM TURKEY FOR EID HOLIDAY

Carrying suitcases, shopping bags and toddlers, thousands of refugees walked back home into Syria from Turkey on Thursday ahead of the Eid festival that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Turkey has taken in some 3 million Syrian migrants since the start of civil war in 2011, making it home to the world's largest refugee population.

Now Ankara is giving Syrian refugees the right to return to Turkey within a month if they want to go home to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Some said they wanted to start again in their homeland, and would return within the month if it did not work out, while others said they wanted to return to Syria for good, citing the difficulty of finding employment in Turkey.

The majority of Syrian refugees in Turkey live outside the government-built camps and struggle to make ends meet as the cost of food, rent and clothing usually exceeds their incomes.

The government, which tightened its border security after a 2016 deal with the European Union to stem illegal migration, estimates it has spent some US$25 billion on housing the refugees.

The offer to return applies to Syrian nationals with valid travel documents who cross through the Cilvegozu and Oncupinar border gates, authorities said. The Eid al-Fitr holiday begins on June 25. Those who wish to return can do so until July 14.

Anyone who comes back after that will be treated as new arrival and subject to the regular immigration process, a local official at the Hatay governor's office said.

Authorities say thousands of Syrians have since returned to Syrian towns freed from Daesh. Still, Turkey's biggest cities and border provinces still host hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Images from Turkey's state-run broadcaster TRT also showed hundreds of refugees waiting near Oncupinar border crossing in the southeastern Turkish province of Kilis.

Source: Nam News Network