Turkey says it will establish camps for 170,000 displaced people in the Idlib province and in Turkish-controlled areas to the east of it ahead of a possible refugee influx from Afrin, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a press conference Tuesday.

The camps will be established in nine different regions. Turkey has been one of the main relocation points for refugees fleeing Syria since war erupted in early 2011. However, Ankara’s increasing involvement in the war has worsened the refugee crisis, especially in the north of Syria where Ankara is battling Kurds with the aim of pushing them back to the west of the Euphrates. 

Dubbed “Olive Branch”, the operation was launched in late January to clear the city of Afrin and the surrounding areas from Kurdish militants of the YPG group. The Afrin operation has largely failed to reach its objectives while it is strongly opposed by the United States, an ally of the Kurdish forces, and the Syrian government, which views the campaign as a violation of its sovereignty.

Aksoy said Turkey, Iran and Russia will hold a trilateral summit in Istanbul in early April aimed at discussing the Syrian crisis. Officials of the three countries will meet in Astana on March 16 for preparatory talks ahead of the summit, he added.

Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Turkey currently hosts Syrians in 21 temporary shelters set up in 10 cities. According to Turkish interior ministry’s Bureau of Migration numbers, there are 228,197 Syrians currently living in these shelters. Aside from these, 3,312,451 Syrian citizens, dependent on state benefits and NGO donations, are dispersed throughout different towns and cities.

There is a total of 3,540,648 Syrians currently living in Turkey. 1,621,363 of them are women and 1,919,285 are men. The number of Syrian children 18 and under is 1,614, 601. The number of girls is 769,297.

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