Angelina Jolie Visits Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Screen idol Angelina Jolie Friday met thousands of Syrians sheltered in camps in Turkey as other refugees began a hunger strike against curbs imposed by Turkish authorities.

The refugees in the Yayladagi camp began the protest after Friday prayers, hours before Jolie's visit as ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees at another camp, a source from a Syrian rights group said.

Inmates of the other camp at Altinozu, which houses some 1,400 people, cheered Jolie as she arrived, accompanied by a massive convoy of vehicles.

"Down with the Syrian regime," they shouted in Arabic. A banner put up at the camp's entrance in English said: "Goodness Angel of the World Welcome."

Crowds gathered on the balconies of nearby homes to catch a glimpse of Jolie, who is noted for her humanitarian work and paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan in March to visit refugee camps.

The refugees later formed a cortege behind a coffin bearing the inscriptions "The community of Arab States," and "the conscience of Russia and China," -- a reference to all the countries opposing a U.N. resolution condemning the repression in Syria.

They also held up banners calling Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad a "killer of children," and urging the world to protect the northwestern flashpoint town of Jisr al-Shughour, where an army crackdown has fuelled an exodus to the Turkish border.

But the visit was overshadowed by the protest at the Yayladagi camp, which 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.

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

Source: Agence France Presse

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