25 January 2015
Turkey's state-run Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) opened the country's biggest-ever tent camp for refugees from Syria yesterday in Suruç, a town in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa that was flooded with Syrian Kurds from the town of Kobani besieged by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) last fall.
The camp will host 35,000 people, some 9,000 people more than another large camp in the provincial town of Akçakale. The sprawling facility is fitted with a school, hospital and 100 laundry and recreational areas. It also has its own water treatment facility that will supply water both to residents of the camp and agricultural lands surrounding the camp.
About 200,000 people had taken shelter in Şanlıurfa and Suruç, which is located on the opposite side of the border from Kobani, between September and December 2014. Suruç has a population of 101,000 people and in the face of the massive influx, the town's municipality along with municipalities of other towns in the area sought to set up camps for the refugees; however, they failed to respond to the high demand due to limited resources. AFAD's camp aims to relieve the local authorities of the heavy burden of the refugees and improve living conditions for Syrian Kurds who had to set up tents in parks and took refuge in abandoned buildings in the absence of proper accommodation.
AFAD plans to open another refugee camp for Syrians whose numbers are closing on 1.6 million in Turkey. The agency currently hosts 227,000 Syrians in 22 camps in the 10 provinces of southern and southeastern Turkey. These include six "container cities," which consists of shipping containers converted into housing units. Camps offer a wide range of services for displaced Syrians from grocery stores to clinics, banks, playgrounds for children and schools.