Syrian refugees in Turkey on hunger strike: source

AFP , Friday 17 Jun 2011

Syrian refugees in Turkey begin hunger strike to protest the restrictions imposed by Turkish authorities like allowing outside access to the refugee camps

Syrian refugees in Turkey began a hunger strike Friday to protest restrictions imposed by Turkish authorities, said a source from a Syrian rights group on Friday.

The refugees in the Yayladagi camp began the strike after Friday prayers said the source, hours before a planned visit by screen idol Angelina Jolie, goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN refugees agency.

The Yayladagi camp holds several thousand refugees and is one of five tent cities set up by the Red Crescent in Turkey's southern province of Hatay.

Turkish authorities have barred all outside access to the refugees staying in the camps.

"They are protesting the lack of visits, their inability to protest against the Damascus regime and the absence of outside contacts," said the anonymous source, a Syrian dissident based in Turkey.

The source also reported incidents of violence against refugees by Turkish guards.

Earlier Friday, Turkish authorities said the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey had reached 9,700 after 1,200 arrived overnight.

Authorities said the refugees receive three meals a day, hot water, and have access to household equipment like washing machines and televisions.

A mobile hospital for the lightly wounded has also been provided along with childcare and psychiatric help, authorities said.

The crackdown on protesters by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has killed 1,200 people and 10,000 others have been detained, according to rights groups and the United Nations.

Thursday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey would keep its borders open to Syrians fleeing the violence and supply humanitarian aid to the thousands of people massed just across the border in Syria itself.

Many come from Jisr al-Shughur, a flashpoint of the anti-government uprising 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Turkish border that was pounded by Syrian regime troops.

Turkey has toughened its stance against Assad's government and said Syrian troops were guilty of atrocities.

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