Published September 18, 2012
AMMAN, Jordan – The new international envoy tasked with ending the 18-month conflict in Syria visited refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey on Tuesday, saying that he hopes the Syrians will find peace soon.
But in Jordan, some angry refugees protested his visit -- an indication of widespread skepticism that a mission that Lakhdar Brahimi himself has called "nearly impossible" will bring results.
Some 200 refugees at the Zaatari desert camp chanted, "Leave our camp. By seeing Bashar, you've extended his life." They were referring to Brahimi's earlier meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Some teenagers threw stones at the vehicles of the envoy's entourage, an Associated Press reporter said.
Brahimi also toured a camp in the Turkish border province of Hatay. Dozens of Syrian refugees demonstrated outside the camp, waving a rebel flag and denouncing Assad.
With no signs of the crisis abating, activists estimate that some 23,000 people have been killed and the U.N. says over 250,000 people have become refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. Some 83,000 refugees have found shelter in 12 camps along the Turkish border with Syria.
Brahimi said it appeared refugees were being treated well in Turkey and that he hoped for an end to the violence.
"We hope that their country finds peace again and they can return to their country as early as possible," he said.
Also Tuesday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry brushed off Syrian accusations that it was allowing thousands of Muslim extremists to cross into its territory.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Selcuk Unal told reporters that Turkey may not even respond to letters Syria sent to the U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon accusing Turkey of allowing thousands of terrorists access to the country.
"Instead of leveling complaints and making false accusations against various countries, including ours, Syria should look at the situation inside the country and take the necessary steps to correct the situation," Unal said.