عربي | كوردى



Integration a necessity for Syrian refugees in Turkey

Integration a necessity for Syrian refugees in Turkey

2019/06/23 | 19:05

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)-











Sinem Cengiz







On Thursday, we marked another World Refugee Day, which was

dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the

world. A lot has been said and written about the desperate plight of those who

have been forced to flee their homes. As the UN says on its website: “Every

minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or

terror.” It seems we will continue to write this for many years to come.



Turkey, located between the Middle East and Europe, hosts

more refugees than any other country in the world. As one of the first

countries to establish a UN High Commissioner for Refugees regional office in

1960, Turkey’s hosting of refugees is not new. However, the Syrian war and

resultant arrival of millions of Syrian refugees has changed the dimension of

the story. Indeed, of the 6 million-plus Syrians who have fled their country

since April 2011, more than half are currently in Turkey.



According to Turkey’s Interior Ministry migration management

department, 415,000 Syrian babies have been born in Turkey since 2011, while

only around 100,000 of the 3.6 million Syrians in Turkey are older than 60.

Indeed, what to do with this large and continuously increasing number of

refugees has become a major issue, occupying much of the political space in

Turkey. The refugee flow has turned the warm welcome into grave concern, given

the fact that less than 10 percent of the refugees live in the camps.



Istanbul, where some 20 percent of the Syrian refugees in

Turkey are thought to live, is going to experience another mayoral election on

Sunday. Both candidates have made clear their stance on this issue. In a TV

debate last Sunday, the opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate

Ekrem Imamoglu said he would establish a special unit to address the Syrian

refugee issue in Istanbul. “We will hold a refugee population census,

especially among children,” he pledged. His counterpart from the ruling Justice

and Development Party (AKP), Binali Yildirim, said that the refugees would

ultimately return to Syria, adding that they would be sent to liberated areas

by the Turkish army.



Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has also said that

Turkey has a lot of ground to cover on refugee adaptation. The CHP has already

offered to establish an “immigration and integration commission” under the roof

of the Turkish Parliament in order to create a road map for negotiating the

refugee problem.Needless to say, the influx of Syrian refugees is an

important factor that has had and will continue to have an effect on voting

behavior in Turkey. Turks are highly divergent in their perceptions of Syrians.

Today, there are a lot of complaints regarding the Syrians, ranging from

security-related issues to their role in the labor market and educational

problems. Prominent writer Gulse Birsel reflected on the polarized feelings

toward Syrian refugees in a recent article. She wrote: “My feelings about the

refugees fly between compassion and anxiety, sympathy and anger. It’s mixed.

While it is a source of pride to hear that Turkey is the largest

refugee-hosting country, the lack of planning and lack of integration programs

for our guests is concerning me that these refugees will be the biggest problem

of our future.”



Needless to say, the arrival of approximately 4 million

Syrian refugees has changed and is further changing Turkish society. It seems

to be having a long-term impact on at least one generation, with Turkey’s

demographics, politics and social landscape being shaped by that impact. While

politicians vow and most Turks hope that all the Syrians will eventually return

to their country, that possibility seems very weak for now. While there are

some returning to the liberated areas of the war-torn country, substantial

numbers of Syrians want to remain, especially taking into account the

businesses they have established in Turkey.



However, the main issue is the long-term integration of the

refugees into Turkish society, which is something that has recently been

acknowledged by Turkish politicians. Eventually, integration will become a

necessity for social harmony, stability and peace. Therefore, it does not

matter who wins the Istanbul election, as both candidates have promised that

various integration methods should be pursued as early and thoroughly as

possible. Such decisions will determine whether the long-term effects of the

presence of Syrians in Turkey will be positive or not.









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