Turkish authorities have settled an additional 191 Syrian refugees in Tell Abyad (Girê Spî), northern Syria, since the beginning of August 2023, as reported by ANHA on Friday. The move is seen as part of Turkey’s ongoing policy of resettlement and demographic change in the region, with over 12,000 families relocated to these areas this year.
The first group, numbering 161 people, was settled on 2 August, and the second group of 30 people was handed over to the military police at the border gate in Tell Abyad on 3 August.
The Syrian refugees are being settled in the homes of people who were forcibly displaced from the canton and its surrounding areas, which have been under Turkish control since October 2019. Most of the relocated individuals are from cities such as Hama, Aleppo (Halab), Idlib, and Deir al-Zor (Dayr az-Zawr).
The Turkish government aims to settle these individuals in areas like Afrin (Efrîn), Tell Abyad, and Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ayn). Since the beginning of 2023, more than 12,000 families have been relocated from Turkey to these territories.
“Turkey will settle more than a million Syrian refugees in the areas it controls in Syria,” Turkish officials stated, revealing plans for areas such as Jarabulus (Cerablus), Azaz, Afrin, Ras al-Ayn, and Tell Abyad.
The settlement plans were further discussed by far-right leader Ümit Özdağ during negotiations with the ruling People’s Alliance. The AKP rejected Özdağ’s proposal to repatriate the 13 million asylum seekers in Turkey within a year, instead expressing the intention to build settlements in northern Syria for one million refugees.
Since 2016, Turkey has been conducting cross-border operations, implementing construction projects and other initiatives in North and East Syria. The construction of new housing settlements in the Afrin region, controlled by Turkey since 2018, has raised questions about the long-term consequences for the original inhabitants.
Critics and human rights organisations have expressed concerns about this policy, emphasising the importance of respecting the rights and autonomy of local communities.