10,633 Syrians have voluntarily returned to their home country across the border after two devastating earthquakes hit southern Türkiye and northern Syria earlier this month.
Inspecting the frontier from the land and air in Hatay province and speaking with border officials, Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Sunday dismissed claims that there had been an influx of Syrian refugees.
“Contrary to the idea that there were intense crossings into Türkiye, they (border officials) said Syrian citizens crossed the border in one direction, from Türkiye to Syria,” Akar said.
“They stated that our Syrian brethren who lost their families and homes in the earthquake voluntarily returned to their homeland.”
“Thermal cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles are used to monitor our entire area of responsibility on a 24/7 basis. There’s no movement at the border and no attempt to cross,” he added.
Over 46,000 dead
Türkiye has been a key transit point for irregular migrants, including Syrians, who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution in their countries.
At least 40,689 people have lost their lives and over 108,000 injured in two powerful earthquakes that rocked southern Türkiye on February 6, according to the latest official figures.
The 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes, centred in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Elazig and Sanliurfa.
In Syria, at least 5,840 people have been killed. The combined death toll in the two countries is over 46,500.