UN urges resettlement of quake-hit Syrian refugees from Turkey

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The UN on Saturday urged countries to speed up taking Syrian refugees from earthquake-hit zones in Turkey, saying they were facing the trauma of loss and displacement all over again.

The United Nations made the call as 89 Syrian refugees arrived in Madrid from Turkey.

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The 7.8-magnitude earthquake on February 6 killed over 45,000 people in Turkey and thousands more in neighboring Syria and completely devastated hundreds of thousands of buildings.

For almost 12 years, Turkey has hosted some 3.5 million Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war. Last month’s earthquake affected an estimated nine million people, of which more than 1.7 million are refugees.

“Many refugees who fled to Turkey in search of safety and protection have now faced the trauma of loss and displacement once again -- losing their homes and livelihoods,” the UN’s International Organization for Migration and the UN refugee agency UNHCR said in a joint statement.

“To help protect those refugees most at-risk, and to help alleviate pressures on local communities who themselves are also impacted by this humanitarian disaster, UNHCR is appealing for states to expedite resettlement processes and departures,” said UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi.

With many refugees affected by the disaster in “dire need of assistance, we urge more states to step up and speed up processes, enabling quick departures from Turkey,” he said.

“This is a tangible expression of solidarity and responsibility sharing and ultimately will ensure immediate, life-changing solutions for refugees who have been made even more vulnerable as a result of the earthquakes.”

Thanking Spain for stepping up, International Organization for Migration chief Antonio Vitorino added: “We hope to see these efforts replicated swiftly.”

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