The Turkish Red Crescent is looking to prevent another possible refugee influx from Syria and is working on mechanisms that would enable people to fulfill their needs within Syrian territories.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), the head of the Red Crescent Kerem Kınık said they are taking necessary measures to prevent a possible refugee flow from Syria in the case of a Turkish military operation east of the Euphrates.
"We are making preparations so that people can their needs within Syria," he said, adding that since the civil war erupted in 2011, Turkey has always been there for whomever is in need, without making any discrimination. Since 2011, Turkey has received a constant flow of displaced Syrians fleeing the conflict and their numbers have grown from mere thousands to millions. Currently, there are more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, the highest in the world.
Kınık added that they are working to enable Syrian refugees in Turkey to return to the secured and liberated areas in Syria. He said that almost 300,000 Syrian refugees has returned to their hometowns as yet. "We are hoping that this number will only grow substantially in the in the upcoming days if a safe zone can be established," he said.
Previously, Turkey conducted two military operations in northern Syria - Operation Olive Branch and Operation Euphrates Shield. The first was launched by Ankara to clear its borders from Daesh elements while the second was launched to prevent the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) ultimate plan of establishing an autonomous region in northern Syria by connecting the northwestern Afrin region to Kobani and Jazeera in the northeast. Following the operations, Turkey has been involved in rebuilding efforts as well as setting up new health and education centers. Turkey has also helped local people build olive oil facilities in the town where agriculture is the main source of income for residents.
Thanks to the success of both operations and the post-operation developments in the liberated areas, the numbers of refugees returning to their hometowns have increased in recent months.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested since 2012 that a safe zone of 30-40 kilometers could be established between the northern Syrian towns of Jarablus and al-Rai. Although the plan did not come to fruition at the time, Erdoğan announced in January that Turkey will set up a safe zone with the assistance of its coalition partners.