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Turkey building refugee camps for Syrian Christians, Kurds

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Turkey building refugee camps for Syrian Christians, Kurds

Apr-12-2013 at 05:48 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Turkey building refugee camps for Syrian Christians, Kurds
By Jonathon Burch | Reuters – Wed, Apr 10, 2013.
(Editing by Nick Tattersall/Mark Heinrich)

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey is building two camps along its far southeastern border with Syria to house a growing number of refugees from Syrian minority groups, mainly Assyrian Christians as well as ethnic Kurds, a government official said on Wednesday.

More 250,000 Syrians fleeing civil war in their homeland have registered in Turkey, most of whom stay in 17 camps along the 900-km (560-mile) border, although Turkish leaders say the total number of refugees is closer to 400,000.

Those who have fled are predominantly ethnic Arabs from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, most of whom largely support the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, who himself belongs to the Alawite minority of Shi'ite Islam.

Apart from housing refugees, Turkey, which also has a Sunni majority, has thrown its weight behind the rebels, giving them sanctuary, although it denies arming them. This has drawn accusations of sectarianism leveled at the government from Assad as well as Turkish minority groups and opposition parties.

Ankara strongly denies a sectarian or ethnic agenda.

The two tented camps, to be completed in less than a month, are being built in Midyat, a town in southeastern Mardin province some 50 km from the Syrian border, the official from Turkey's foreign ministry said.

One camp with a capacity of 2,500 people will house mainly Assyrian Christians as well as refugees from other Christian denominations. It will be constructed on empty land next to an Assyrian church, which has been donated by its Assyrian owner.

Turkey has its own small Assyrian minority, most of whom live in Mardin and in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city. It was on their request that the camp is being built, the official said.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan recently met Assyrian leaders in Turkey.

The other camp will have a capacity of 3,000 and would house any Syrian Kurds fleeing violence though Arabs could also stay, the official said. Mardin, home to many Turkish Kurds, borders an area of Syria with a large concentration of Syrian Kurds.

Syria's 22 million population is roughly three-quarters Sunni Muslim, which includes Arabs and Kurds, and around 15 percent other Muslim groups, including mostly Alawites but also some Shi'ites and Druze. Some 10 percent are Christian, while Syria is also home to a tiny Jewish community.

Ethnic Kurds make up around 10 percent of the population.

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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