Projects to rebuild a historic district in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, which the PKK left in ruins in attacks last year and in 2015, will be launched today. A ground-breaking ceremony will be held for rebuilding projects that will also cover other terror-hit areas in the region
Months after security forces secured an area hit by a campaign of violence by militants of the terrorist group PKK; Ankara has officially launched a rebuilding process in southeastern Turkey.
Reconstruction efforts will focus on Sur, a historic district in the city of Diyarbakır, where a ground-breaking ceremony will be held today.
Sur, home to ancient churches, mosques and other buildings of historic importance, has been besieged by terrorists for months. Anti-terror operations that started in 2015 lasted for more than 100 days before they were wrapped up on March 10, 2016.
No major terror attacks have happened there since then, but the recovery of daily life, paralyzed by attacks and clashes, will take more time.
Pledging to renovate the district, Turkey has already started the restoration of damaged buildings and will unveil more projects at today's ceremony, held by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Development.
Minister Mehmet Özhaseki will inaugurate the "Urban Design and Landscape Project" in İçkale Valley, where ancient city walls straddle through. The project aims to break ground for residences, which will be compatible with local architecture in the city that traces back its history to 3,000 B.C.
Diyarbakır, the largest city in country's southeast, has long been associated with terror attacks as the PKK, which claims to fight for Kurdish self-rule in the region, drew recruits among Kurds in the city and intimidated its population with constant threats of terror, targeting anyone opposing them.
Deteriorated security made the city closed to economic growth and urban development has consequently been stunted for decades. After anti-terror operations, Ankara has announced plans to rebuild what the Turkish media dubbed a "livable Diyarbakır" and put an end to the haphazard urban planning threatening to eradicate the historic texture of Diyarbakır.
Plans to rebuild the district will see the demolition of housing units not in line with zoning plans and other buildings that have been heavily damaged during the terror campaign.
One of the main goals of the project is to restore the city's heritage, such as mosques, churches and other historic buildings built during the Ottoman era. The ministry has already started work on 31 historic buildings in the district.
Turkey will also build 5,637 apartments for the city's residents to address the housing shortage following the damage on residential areas by the PKK. The construction of some 1,000 apartments is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017, according to local media outlets.
Authorities also plan on building more than 8,800 residences in other regional towns, including Şırnak, Cizre, Silopi and İdil, where the PKK launched a spate of attacks in 2015 following the declaration of the end to a unilateral "truce" with Turkey.
Since then, the terrorist group has killed hundreds of civilians, soldiers and police officers both in the region and in other cities.
Speaking to Daily Sabah's Ankara correspondent Ali Ünal in June, Mehmet Özhaseki explained that they had a three-stage action plan for Sur that would turn it into a center for tourism.
Özhaseki said the state would compensate the people whose homes were damaged, restore every historical building in the district and finally, would renovate stores lined up on two streets, serving as a marketplace to boost revenues of local businesses.
Some 600 historical structures will undergo restoration or renovation, while the extensive work is only expected to cost about TL 7.5 billion ($2.08 billion).
A year of terror took a heavy toll on the southeastern region and more than 30,000 residences are believed to be damaged or completely destroyed in terror attacks. Ruined buildings, booby-trapped by fleeing terrorists, have complicated the recovery efforts in the region.
Authorities say reconstruction work in two neighborhoods in Nusaybin, a southeastern town near Diyarbakır, is still delayed due to suspected explosives booby-trapped in the neighborhoods.
Apart from Diyarbakır, authorities have started construction on new residences in other towns, from Silopi to İdil, and more are expected to be built this year as the country continues its broad efforts to fight against terrorism.
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