Border crossings are seeing heavy traffic these days as a result of the influx of people from Turkey to Syrian territory over Eid, however most of them are then returning to Turkey despite the relative stability in their cities, especially in the northeastern Aleppo countryside which are part of Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch.
According to crossing statistics, there were about 10,000 visitors during Eid last year, who then decided to remain. Meanwhile a larger portion of visitors decided to return to Turkey, despite the vast majority of them being residents of the Aleppo countryside, which are controlled by the Free Syrian Army supported by Turkey.
“I cannot stay here, and I’ll return to Turkey after I finish the trip,” says Ahmad al-Hussein, a father, that was displaced with his family from the city of Jarablus to Turkey about three years ago when the Islamic State was in control of the city.
Regarding the reasons Hussein cannot return to his city with his wife and four children, he told the Al-Hal website that the relative stability in the northeastern Aleppo countryside is not guaranteed. He says, “the authority here is still with those who have arms. I’ve been here about a week and there are daily fights in which light firearms are used. Sometimes it reaches the point where groups are fighting with heavy weapons. I can’t guarantee my children’s safety here.”
Security, stability, and the absence of civil authority and services — these are the main reasons obstructing the return of refugees from the the northeastern Aleppo countryside to their homes. Ahmad adds that the education system in the Aleppo countryside is still in its infancy, saying “all my children are registered in Turkish schools where we live. They are studying Turkish and it is hard to move them to schools here without being able to guarantee that they won’t be displaced again after a day.”
Civil institutions are working in the Euphrates Shield areas to set up a number of projects to encourage Syrians to return to their villages and homes, in addition to reconstructing facilities again. The “Turkish government has contributed to setting up a number of hospitals, schools and service institutions in the areas which it controls within the framework of Operation Euphrates Shield, all of which was a factor in the return of thousands of Syrian families,” however the largest portion of refugees coming from Turkey prefer to return to their country of refuge rather than settling again in their country.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.