October 21, 2013 - 14:52 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has exceeded 600,000 and more than 400,000 of them are living outside the refugee camps set up mainly in Turkish border cities, the Turkish disaster management agency said on Monday, Oct 21, according to Reuters.
"We conducted a study before the Eid (al-Adha) holidays and the numbers have increased above 600,000," said Mustafa Aydogdu, spokesman for the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD).
Turkey, which shares a 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, is a strong critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a main supporter of the opposition forces fighting against him.
It has said it will maintain its "open door" policy to those fleeing the Syrian civil war, now in its third year, although it has closed border crossings from time to time following clashes near the frontier.
About 200,000 Syrians were living in 21 refugee camps, mainly near cities near the border, Aydogdu said, while the rest chose to live in rented accommodation outside the camps.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in August Turkey has already spent around $2 billion sheltering the refugees. The United Nations expects another 2 million Syrians to become refugees in 2014 and 2.25 million more to be displaced within the country.
More than 2.1 million Syrians are hosted in the region, placing unprecedented strain on communities, infrastructure and services in host countries. There has been a massive escalation of arrivals in 2013. Over one million Syrian refugees have registered as refugees since the beginning of 2013. If current trends persist, it can be expected that over 3 million Syrians would have left their country by the end of 2013, the UNHCR says.