World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkey has begun handing out food and other humanitarian aid to Syrians right on their common border as the worsening conflict in Syria makes aid distribution there increasingly difficult, Turkey's disaster and emergency body said on Saturday.
The move coincides with a sharp increase in the number of Syrians fleeing the fighting in the 17-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, taking the total in Turkey to nearly 70,000 and challenging its ability to cope.
The humanitarian situation in Syria has deteriorated as fighting escalates, cutting off civilians from food supplies, health care and other assistance, aid agencies say.
"The distribution of humanitarian aid by our country right on the border with Syria has begun," Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said in a statement.
Turkey has told the United Nations of the new practice and has opened a centre in its southeastern town of Gaziantep to receive international aid, AFAD said, adding that it needed dried, tinned and baby food, bedding and personal hygiene items.
The Turkish Red Crescent has also set up sites at four places on the border with Syria to receive local donations.
More than 170,000 Syrians have been registered in neighbouring countries - Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey - according to the U.N. refugee agency.
Some 1.2 million people are uprooted within Syria, many staying in schools or other public buildings, according to the U.N. regional humanitarian relief coordinator.
There has been a diarrhoea outbreak among residents of Rural Damascus province because the water supply has been contaminated by sewage, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
The number of Syrians in Turkey has risen sharply from 44,000 at the end of July, and Ankara is concerned there may be a flood of refugees from the major northern city of Aleppo as the conflict there intensifies.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday welcomed the United Nations' appointment of Lakhdar Brahimi as the new international mediator on Syria but said he would need consensus in the U.N. Security Council if his mission was to succeed.
Turkey is setting up four new refugee camps to cope with the influx: two in Gaziantep, one in Kahramanmaras and one in Osmaniye. It already has eight tent cities - five in Hatay, two in Sanliurfa and one in Gaziantep - and a camp of prefabricated housing for 12,000 people in Kilis province.
Setting up the new camps would bring the cost of caring for the refugees to around 300 million Turkish lira ($167 million), AFAD said.
Deal will cover EU-Turkey agreement on readmitting migrants
'I don't think I will be a candidate in the next congress in the current circumstances,' PM Davutoglu says
Deputy foreign minister says Turkish ties to EU stronger than before
Thursday’s papers cover claims that Turkey’s ruling AK Party will hold an extraordinary congress
Rumours have been rife with the imminent departure of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Rockets fired from Syria have hit buildings in Kilis
Rocket fire on Kilis province will not be left unanswered, says President Erdogan
UN Population Fund Turkey Representative Kulessa says country is working hard to shelter some 3 million refugees
'We are ready to take all measures that we need, both inside Turkey and outside, to provide for our own security,' PM Davutoglu says
Turkey believes Bosnia can be a major production base, for the European market, and for Chinese investment, says deputy PM
Ahmet Davutoglu says terror group failed to honor committments during 'solution process'
ISIL has launched two more devices at Kilis on Wednesday, prompting artillery fire from Turkish forces
Domestic papers cover major anti-fraud operation which saw over 100 people – including pharmacists, medics and nurses – held
More than 30 journalists call for release of colleagues detained by Egyptian police
A new Turkish Airlines air route will have flights will run three times a week
Latest bombardment marks almost a week of indiscriminate attacks on border city