March 28, 2023

Bab al-Hawa, Syria After seven years aside, Hussein al-Ahmed made the journey from Turkey, and at last reunited along with his household in northern Syria.

However it was not any change associated to the battle in Syria that introduced him again.

As a substitute, al-Ahmed is among the 1000’s of Syrian refugees in Turkey who’ve taken benefit of a leisure in laws following the devastating earthquakes that hit southeastern Turkey and northern Syria a month in the past.

Turkish authorities now enable Syrian refugees residing in earthquake-hit provinces to voluntarily return to opposition-controlled northwestern Syria after which come again – so long as they don’t spend longer than six months away.

For Syrians dwelling within the 10 Turkish provinces most deeply affected by the earthquakes, the place so many buildings have been destroyed and lots of stay unsafe, Syria – a rustic they fled because of the now 12-year battle – out of the blue seems extra interesting, albeit briefly.

“After my sister and I spent 10 days in public parks, I didn’t have any selection apart from return to Syria via the voluntary return system that was introduced,” mentioned al-Ahmed, a 30-year-old refugee initially from northern rural Hama who lives within the metropolis of Iskenderun in southern Turkey.

Hussain al-Ahmed
Hussein al-Ahmed reunited along with his household in Syria after spending seven years in Turkey [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

The determined situation of the southern Turkish provinces hit by the earthquakes, and the shortage of family members in different provinces, are among the many pull components which have inspired some Syrians to make the journey to northern Syria. There, they’ve family members and could possibly at the very least safe a shelter earlier than once more contemplating whether or not to remain or to return to Turkey, as soon as earthquake-hit areas have been rebuilt.

The variety of Syrian refugees who arrived in Syria by way of the Bab al-Hawa, Bab al-Salam, and Jarablus border crossings has reached nearly 40,000.

“The variety of refugees arriving via the Bab al-Hawa crossing is almost 15,000,” Mazen Alloush, director of media relations on the Syrian facet of the crossing between the nation and Turkey, advised Al Jazeera.

Alloush mentioned that the voluntary return program extends solely to holders of the short-term safety allow, and isn’t open to holders of vacationer residency permits, and even twin Syrian-Turkish residents.

A Turkish protection ministry official additionally advised Reuters final week that 40,000 Syrians had returned to their house nation.

Since April final 12 months, Syrians had been prevented from making spherical journeys again to Syria, and weren’t allowed to return to Turkey in the event that they crossed the border.

The difficulty of Syrian refugees in Turkey, who quantity greater than 3.75 millionhas been a controversial one lately, with rising anti-Syrian sentiment among the many Turkish public.

Alternative to get away

For al-Ahmed, his deliberate three-month journey to Syria offers a chance to get away from what he skilled in the course of the earthquakes, which killed greater than 50,000 folks in each Turkey and Syria, however he’ll then must return.

“I’ll return to Turkey after my voluntary return ends as a result of my household lives in a refugee camp right here and I don’t wish to improve their burden,” al-Ahmed mentioned. “I additionally must resume work so I can safe a dwelling for me and my household right here.”

For others, the chance to return house allowed them to lastly say goodbye to relations that had handed of their absence.

Malak Khazna, a Syrian refugee who has lived within the Turkish metropolis of Antakya for the previous 9 years, misplaced her mom two years in the past, however had been unable to return for worry of being caught in Syria.

“My primary motive for returning is visiting my mom’s grave. Maybe she would forgive me for once I could not say goodbye and maintain her throughout her sickness,’ Khazna advised Al Jazeera.

Malak Khazna
Malak Khazna has gone to Syria along with her four-year-old son, and is planning to spend three months there earlier than deciding on whether or not to return to Turkey [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Khazna mentioned that the destruction attributable to the earthquake had reminded her of her experiences in the course of the battle in Syria, the place buildings had been toppled and civilians had been caught beneath the rubble.

“My keep is for 3 months. I’ll dwell with my son and his household,” mentioned Khazna. “If I discover issues to be steady, and there are not any air strikes, I’ll stay right here and will not return to Turkey. I went to Turkey to flee the [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad regime’s air strikes – I did not go there to settle.”

The quake-stricken, southern Turkish provinces host the best numbers of Syrian refugees in Turkey, in gentle of their proximity to the Syrian borders, and their low hire and value of dwelling compared to the opposite provinces.

A few of the refugees who resided in these provinces have now determined to make a everlasting return after the earthquake, through which many misplaced their jobs and their belongings.

Hassan Hasram, a father to eight youngsters, is a Syrian refugee who lived in Antakya.

Now, after dropping his grandson and son-in-law within the earthquake, he has determined to return to Syria.

“I am unable to transfer to a different province due to hire skyrocketing after the earthquake in most Turkish provinces. Additionally, my household is large and I will not be capable to afford our bills after dropping my office,” mentioned Hasram.

Hasram advised Al Jazeera that he has no family members apart from his sister, who lives in a refugee camp close to the Syrian-Turkish border, and her tent wouldn’t be sufficient to shelter him and his household.

And so, between the choice of the tent he presently lives in, and making the dangerous journey again to Syria, he has determined to go house.

“Issues are very dangerous within the camp [in Turkey], There’s a critical scarcity of assist, whether or not by way of meals, or heating, and even ingesting water,” Hasram mentioned. “Turkey is now a part of the previous, and I will not be capable to return once more.”

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