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US-based aid group helping Syrians shut down in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s government has revoked the registration of a U.S-based aid group, forcing it to shut down operations that provided assistance to conflict-stricken Syrians from Turkey, the group said Wednesday.

The Portland, Oregon-based Mercy Corps said it was “seeking a dialogue” with Turkish authorities to resume operations that constitute one of the largest humanitarian operations for Syria.

“Our hearts are broken by this turn of events, which comes after five years of cooperation with the government of Turkey,” the group said in a statement.

Christine Bragale, Mercy Corps’ media relations director, told The Associated Press by telephone that the registration was revoked on Feb. 20. The group was not given a reason for the decision.

“We continue to seek the opportunity to return to serve those in critical need,” she said.

The group said it delivered food and other supplies including clothes and blankets to between 350,000 and 500,000 Syrians across the border in Syria each month. Additionally, it provided emergency assistance to some 100,000 Syrians and Turkish citizens inside Turkey last year.

Turkey is home to some 3 million — mostly Syrian — refugees, and is also a main point for the delivery of aid to Syria.

Bragale said Mercy Corps would continue its cross-border operations for Syria from other regional hubs “to ensure that there is no gap” in the delivery of the assistance.

There was no immediate statement from the Turkish government.

Turkey imposed a state of emergency following a failed military coup in July and ordered hundreds of nongovernmental organizations shut down, claiming links to outlawed groups.


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