Turkey marks 10 yrs of coexistence with Syrian refugees

Turkey has marked the 10th anniversary of immigration of Syrian refugees, who fled the Civil War in their conflict-ridden country.

Since the initial arrival of a couple of hundreds Syrians in April 2011, their number has increased exponentially, reaching 3.7 million, according to official data released on Saturday.

Never to date, Turkey had witnessed a wave of immigration of such a scale, Xinhua news agency reported.

Novel institutions and policies have been established to address the challenge of offering Syrians a new life in the country.

First welcomed in many camps near the Syrian border in southeast Turkey in line with an “open door” policy, the refugees now live scattered across the Turkish soil.

Roughly two-thirds are concentrated in urban areas, benefiting from European and Turkish humanitarian aid schemes.

Syrians are classified as having “temporary protection” status and not as refugees.

In a decade, nearly half a million Syrian babies have been born in the country.

“Turkey was confronted with a huge challenge of hosting so many refugees,” Didem Isci, a researcher at Ankara’s Social Sciences University, told Xinhua.

Isci stressed that rules of social isolation imposed during the coronavirus outbreak had also widened the social gap between Syrian and local communities.

“There is little interaction between locals and refugees, and Syrians live in their ghettos,” she remarked, calling the Turkish government to work towards their integration into the society.

According to a recent study, a majority of the Syrian community prefer to stay in Turkey despite challenging living conditions and a prevailing anti-refugee sentiment among some locals due to an unfavourable economic climate.

Only about half a million Syrians have returned to northwest Syria since 2018.

Meanwhile, Turkey and the European Union are in talks to renew a critical deal on the refugee issue.

The 2016 agreement envisaged that Turkey prevents refugees and migrants from trying to reach Europe in exchange for aid totalling 6 billion euros ($7 billion)

Ankara has, so far, spent around $40 billion on Syrians, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly said, urging European nations to offer more financial assistance.