More than 1,000 Syrian refugees fled to Turkey in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of people currently staying in Turkey to nearly 21,000, a Turkish official said on Thursday.
“A total of 1,043 Syrians made their way to Turkey in a single day, marking the highest figure in recent times,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Turkey is home to a growing number of refugees fleeing the unrest in neighboring Syria which has left more than 9,000 people dead since March last year, according to U.N. figures.
Turkey says it is ready to extend help to the Syrians, but it also fears the number of arrivals could soar to the level of the half-million Iraqi Kurds who poured across the border to escape Saddam Hussein’s repression during the 1991 Gulf War.
Turkish officials have contingency plans in the event of a larger-scale incursion as Syrian regime forces storm opposition towns near the Turkish border.
Currently, the government has set up nine locations including eight tented camps and a “container city” in Kilis, some 150 kilometers (95 miles) east of the Hatay camps, to deal with the influx.
Turkey which is also playing host to a large Syrian opposition community — including rebels defecting from the army — has broken a former alliance with the Damascus regime and urged President Bashar al-Assad to quit, according to AFP.