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the worst thing for a refugee is 'uncertainty'

Nearly 2.6 million Syrian with diverse


religious and ethnic backgrounds live in
Turkey under the temporary protection
status regarding to the 1951 Convention
relating to the Status of Refugees. Now,
Turkey is the largest refugee hosting
community in the world. http
://www.unhcr.org/1951-refugee-convention.html

The Syrian problem has emerged just across our


border and is the greatest migration wave in the
last 30 years.

2 million registered refugees in the


country with many still awaiting
registration. There is currently no
indication of an end to the war anytime
soon. 300000 people are living in the
camps and an estimated 1,7 million
living in the cities.
1)Turkey as a home country:

2) Turkey as a transfer country:


During regional crises like the forced
migration of Turks from Bulgaria and
the First Gulf War, Turkey admitted
around 400,000-500,000 refugees.
We became a transit country for
Iranians after the Islamic Revolution

Having achieved economic growth


to become the 17th largest
economy in the world and a
member of G20, Turkey was still a
transit country along migration
routes until roughly five years ago
(March 2011.) Following an uprising

Turkey did not have the


legal, social or economic
infrastructure and
experience in this field to
meet the massive

Different phases of Syrian war


Those leaving Syria first were
people from the upper income level.
Most had economic means and
cultural ties with the West. They
preferred countries like Canada, the
UAE and Qatar, which accept
migrants relatively readily. Turkey

These first immigrants, who


spoke foreign languages and
had passports, chose Turkey
usually as a place of temporary
residence. And they lived on
assets held in international
financial centers.

Syrians who hoped to return to their country


one day and who had not lived in or had ties
with the Western or faraway countries
mostly chose Lebanon. The reason why they
preferred Lebanon, which is a much smaller
country compared to Turkey and can offer
limited opportunities, was that Syrians could
easily obtain refugee status and register
with the United Nations agencies: Most
importantly, Arabic is spoken in Lebanon,
too. There was no "language problem," one
of the biggest challenges facing refugees, in

When the crisis escalated, the first group of


refugees came to Turkey usually with their
vehicles. Later on, the lower middle classes
also began to arrive, bringing considerable
assets with them. The government could
not predict how long the conflict would last
and lacked the infrastructure and
administrative mechanisms necessary for
managing that huge influx. There was a
strong belief that Bashar Assad would be

However, the critical threshold of


100,000 refugees was passed in
the same year and over the course
of five years the total number of
refugees has climbed to 2.6 million.
Nowadays the migration seems to
have stopped as Syria is almost
completely abandoned.

Turkey has to open its border as required by


international law. Turkey adopted an "open
border" policy, while European countries
accepted very few refugees and provided
housing to only a few thousand. In fact,
they led to unrealistic expectations about
housing and jobs among Syrians and
caused many of them either to die or lose
their savings to human smugglers while
trying to go to Europe through the

Turkey has spent 10 billion US


dolars
And only had 455 million dolars aid
from the international community


We use the term "Syrian refugees" but Turkish laws do not allow Syrians to
obtain "refugee" status; because only migrants from Europe are eligible for
refugee status due to a policy of "geographical reservations." Syrians are
currently given the status of guests and can get ID cards, basic and urgent
health services and work permits upon application. Thus they enjoy protection
in line with international laws.
With the passage of the law on "Foreigners and International Protection" in
2014, the authority to evaluate applications for asylum requests was taken
from police departments and given to the Directorate General of Migration
Management. In other words, the state ceased to look at asylum requests
from the perspective of "security and potential crimes," adopting a human
rights-based approach.

The first groups of desperate Syrians were not supposed


to settle in big cities. They were housed in container
and tent camps set up by the Prime Ministry's Disaster
and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD). There
was an intention to keep them in these places of
temporary residence until the end of the conflict.

Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management


Authority (AFAD)
27 camps, in 10 cities
accommodation, food, health, education and other
humanitarian needs, all free
According to UN, Global Humanitarian Assistance Report
2014, Turkey became the worlds first in terms of
percentage of national income most generous donor
country.

Syrians can go to Turkish schools and universities


The number of the Syrians in state schools (pre-high)
75600
The number of the attendants to temporary schools:
175000
16.746.756 asked for medical help
815.430 spent more than one night in an hospital
686.861 had an operation in a Turkish hospital
151.746 babies born

It is a small historic city


that was squeezed
between two major cities
in Turkey and Syria,
Gaziantep and Aleppo.
Just a few miles to the
border, The population
of this small city was
around 90,000 and, As of
today the city has
almost 130,000 Syrian
refugees almost 150
percent more than local
population.

Problems and solutions:


The status of "temporary guest" Turkey grants to
Syrians has an equivalent in international law. Syrians
expect from Turkey a system that gives them a solid
and unambiguous status with mutual rights and
responsibilities.
Such a status would also relieve Turkey regarding issues
like tax collection and provision of public services.
Again, guaranteeing the right of asylum would save
Syrians from worries.

As a stable and large economy in the region,


Turkey will be more of a destination than a
transit country in the future. When the
immigrants accepted from neighboring
countries and the Syrian issues are thought
together, there is an urgent need for a ministry
of immigration that will formulate social
policies and do the administrative follow-up.

Syrians have brought to Turkey a new and dynamic


labor force. They have the potential to create a new
economic dynamism by working, producing and
consuming. However, perceiving this new labor force as
a cheap and exploitable resource would not be humane.
There is already a "minimum wage for Syrians" that is
around $150 per month. Ensuring social security along
with a work permit is crucial for fairness and equity.

The same is true of home rental prices.


Let's emphasize the advantage of
owning a house and note the
unfairness of renting a house at much
above the market rate.
There is an urgent need for educating
children who are at school age but do
not get an education. The language

The civil law should be vigorously


implemented and custody of children
should be properly awarded in cases of
divorce. Mistreatment of minors and
elders and the abuse of Syrian women
should be absolutely prevented. This
can be achieved through both social
policies and heightened awareness.
Turkey must take measures in this

International community
AFAD, Turkish NGOs, municipalities, local communities
are doing an amazing work and deserve better
recognition from the international community.
AFAD deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for touching the
lives of many in last five years.
It is an interesting contrast to see the intolerance, fear
and anxiety of some European communities about the
Syrian refugee wave since last summer and the
tolerance, generosity and consideration of the people in
Turkey in different cities along the Syrian border.

Turkey has drawn the


attention of international
community to the issue
of establishing a safe
zone along the border
and building mass
housing or perhaps towns
there. But no consensus
has yet been reached.
The return of many Syrians is related not to the end of the conflict but the healing
of wounds and rebuilding of their country. And even that may take about 10 years.
Again, some of those Syrians who came Turkey four years ago, settled and
created a new life, will never go back at all.

It is perverse to expect Turkey to solve the refugee crisis


on its own while blaming it for everything that goes
wrong.
In terms of sharing the burden, cooperation between
Turkey and the EU is a must.
The EU has proven its incapability of preserving its
supposed unity of vision in the face of the refugee crisis.
It needs Turkey among its members to credibly resolve
the crisis. Only through cooperation and partnership can
we address this calamity.

HOWEVER,
The controversial deal between Turkey and the European Union,
which promises to permanently stem the flow of refugees into
Europe, collapsed. Under the agreement, Turkey will take back
any refugees who reached the Greek islands, making it
meaningless for refugees to risk their lives at sea.
But general understanding was the Turkish delegation came to
Brussels, stole something from Europe and went back home.
Having talked a great deal about "European values," and the deal
rejected based on democratic concerns, it was realpolitik, not
European values, that paved the way to the refugee deal and
collapse of it though. By ignoring the humanitarian crisis and
turning dialogue into barter, Europe has failed its promise and
made a healthy process to address pressing issues look like a
dirty, behind-closed-doors deal.

The EU treats Turkey as a convenient scapegoat and sees it like a giant


refugee camp.
And the Turkish public demands from its government to take the initiative and
ask it to
a)
reject the 3-billion-euro fund transfer
b)
reject the deal that will allow European countries to send refugees back to
Turkey
c)
demand from Europe to open its borders just like Turkey for a free movement
of refugees.

Until the time comes when a


refugee in Kilis and a refugee in
Paris are problems of equal
weight for all of us, we cannot
consider ourselves nearing an
answer.