Turkey plans to build 200,000 homes Syrian safe zone for refugees

Details of Turkey’s draft plan on constructing cities for refugees in the Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria were revealed on Friday by state broadcaster TRT Haber.

The broadcaster reported that a total of 200,000 homes would be built to resettle 1 million Syrian refugees living in the country.

The broadcaster added that the construction project in a planned safe zone would cost around 151 billion lira ($27 billion), involving the construction of 140 villages with populations of 5,000 and 10 towns with 30,000 inhabitants.

TRT Haber also published on its website mock-up photos of the housing projects.

According to the report, each town would have 6,000 homes, 11 mosques, hospitals, football pitches, and nine schools, alongside other facilities.

The report said foreign funds would be obtained to finance the project, without elaborating any detail on how the international funding would be made available.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan first provided details on his plans for the refugee cities on September 16, following a trilateral meeting – – the 5th Astana Summit – –  with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At the time, Erdogan vowed that the project would be carried out by utilizing the country’s public housing authority, TOKI, which would be building houses with gardens that can be used to grow food.

Erdogan later spoke of the project in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this week, proposing that an expanded safe zone in northern Syria could include as many as 3 million people if it stretches for 50 miles as far as the city of Raqqa.

Erdogan held up a map to show the zone which Turkey wants to set up with the United States (US).

Turkey is urging the US to set up a 20-mile (32 km) deep safe zone along more than 400 km of its border with northeast Syria.

With the safe zone, Erdogan’s Turkey plans to set up what it calls a “peace corridor” which would enable resettling Syrian refugees in the country’s north.

Turkey, which hosts 3.65 million Syrian refugees, fears the recent clashes between Turkey-backed rebels and Russia-backed Syrian government in Idlib will cause a further refugee influx into the country.

Turkey also aims to clear Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northeaster region of Syria.  Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group which has waged a three-decade insurgency in the country.

Washington, however, backs the YPG as its ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), arming the Kurdish militias in the region.

On Friday, on his way back to Turkey from the UNGA, Erdogan reiterated his threat that Turkey would act unilaterally to establish the safe zone if the joint works with the US did not progress.

Erdogan says up to 3 million refugees could be settled back in safe zone

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