Monday, December 29, 2014

The Impact of Syria's Refugees on Southern Turkey

Since Policy Focus 130 was first published in October 2013, the number of registered Syrian refugees in Turkey has nearly doubled, from roughly 440,000 to 747,000. Although Turkey's national burden is relatively small when compared with Syria's other neighbors—namely Lebanon and Jordan—pressures are increasingly intense in five southern Turkish provinces where a disproportionate number of the refugees are concentrated. All told, and accounting for unregistered refugees, Turkey can expect to permanently host about a million Syrian refugees. Integrating these arrivals poses challenges at a scale not seen in Turkey's modern history, calling for analysis of cultural, social, and economic implications.

Questions addressed in this newly revised and updated release include whether Ankara will provide permanent residency or even citizenship to refugees. If so, how will such a move affect the Turkish political landscape, especially given refugees' general sympathy with the ruling Justice and Development Party? Also at issue is whether Turkey will maintain its remarkable economic resilience. After an initial dip in exports with Syria following the 2011 uprising, Turkish companies have bounced back, even increasing their trade volume with Syrian counterparts since last fall. Finally, Turkey's southern provinces face sensitive cultural challenges, with the influx of Sunni Arab refugees upsetting the longstanding sectarian balance. Washington will need to monitor these and other trends so that its cooperation with the Turkish government, and the international community, will be focused, attuned, and effective.

To read the report please click

Friday, December 26, 2014

Outlook Darkens for Syria Refugees in Turkey

ISTANBUL—Turkey’s welcome to Syrian refugees is coming under strain, as international aid dries up and Turks grow weary of the burden to their country caused by the 1.7 million people who have spilled over the border to escape war next door.

On a recent night here, dozens of Syrian men lined to use the only bathroom in a commercial building that once housed offices and workshops, but now shelters homeless Syrians, who pay $240 a month for a bunk bed in one of its 30 rooms.

With nighttime temperatures dropping to the 30s, the building’s Turkish owner lets residents buy portable heaters, but he limits their use to save electricity. It is a sign to Mohammed Darweesh, a 31-year-old doctor from the Syrian province of Latakia, that Turkey’s embrace was wearing thin.

“One night, local volunteers knocked our door and offered blankets. I told them our problems are too great to be solved with blankets,” Mr. Darweesh said, adding that his money was running low and he was unable to get a job. “Turkey has been good to Syrians, but two million people are just too many.”
Since the start of Syria’s political upheaval in March 2011, Turkish authorities have sought to control the dispersal of Syrian refugees across the country by giving government aid only to people in camps it operates near the Turkish-Syrian frontier.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New funding announced by HRVP Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides as they meet with refugees in Turkey

European Commission - Press release

EU steps up assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey

Brussels, 09 December 2014

New funding announced by HRVP Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides as they meet with refugees in Turkey

With growing numbers of refugees from Syria seeking sanctuary in Turkey, the European Commission is stepping up its assistance with an additional €10 million in humanitarian funding both inside Turkey and inside Syria via cross-border assistance from Turkey. The funding was announced as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides visited a camp for Syrian refugees in the border town of Kilis, south-central Turkey, and attended a distribution of EU-funded aid for refugees.

HRVP Federica Mogherini stated: "Today, we are stepping up our assistance to the people of Syria and to the Turkish communities hosting Syrian refugees. Europe stands firmly with Turkey and is determined to play its role to the full to bring a lasting political solution to this regional crisis and humanitarian tragedy".

"Let me express my deep appreciation for the immense efforts by Turkey and its people, who have shown their huge capacity for solidarity with the people of Syria in their greatest time of need," said Commissioner Stylianides. "Europe stands firmly with Turkey. We remain fully committed to our ongoing support to the refugee population in the country, which is why we are stepping up our assistance".

Thursday, November 20, 2014

UNHCR: Frequently Asked Questions Syrian Refugees in Turkey

UNHCR Frequently Asked Questions
Syrian Refugees in Turkey
October 2013

What is the Temporary Protection regime and to whom does it apply?

The Temporary Protection (TP) regime established by the Government of Turkey (GoT) is in
line with international standards for dealing with sudden and large increases of numbers of
refugees crossing the border. Under the TP regime, Syrians are to be provided with protection and
assistance in Turkey, which includes unlimited stay, protection against against forcible returns
and access to reception arrangements where immediate needs are addressed. To date, assistance has
been systematically provided in the camps. For the non-camp refugees, the assistance is being
provided on an adhoc basis with the notable exception of access to public medical health care which
has been open to all Syrian nationals in Turkey.

All Syrian refugees are covered by the TP regime, including those without identification documents.
The TP regime also covers Palestinians from Syria and stateless persons from Syria.

Turkey: Border abuses and destitution aggravating plight of Syria refugees

The international community’s failure to deal with the growing number of Syrian refugees fleeing into Turkey has led to a crisis of unprecedented proportions with refugees facing push-backs and live fire at the border and hundreds of thousands living in destitution, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

A Kurdish refugee mother and son from the town of Kobani in Syria walk beside their tent in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruc in Turkey.
A Kurdish refugee mother and son from the town of Kobani in Syria walk beside their tent in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruc in Turkey. © 2014 Getty Images

Struggling to Survive: Refugees from Syria in Turkey documents serious human rights risks faced by the 1.6 million people who have sought refuge in the country over the last three and a half years. It also highlights the deplorable reluctance of the international community to take meaningful financial responsibility for the refugee crisis.

“Turkey is clearly struggling to meet even the most basic needs of hundreds of thousands Syrian refugees. The result is that many of those who have made it across the border have been abandoned to a life of destitution. The humanitarian assistance offered by the international community has been pitifully low, but Turkey also needs to do more to request and facilitate it,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Turkey.

“While Turkey has officially opened its border crossings to Syrian refugees, the reality for many of those trying to escape the ravages of war is a different story. Many are pushed back into the war zone with some even facing live fire.”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More funds needed for million Syrian refugees in Turkey: UNHCR

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than a million Syrian refugees in Turkey may go without food, medicine and shelter unless there is an increase in international funding, the U.N. refugee agency said on Wednesday.

Turkey was already struggling to cope with the refugees before the attack on the border town of Kobani began, and the inflow has now far exceeded the international support Turkey has received, a UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) spokeswoman said.

More than 180,000 residents of Kobani, a Syrian Kurdish town, have fled to Turkey as fighters of the militant Sunni group Islamic State closed in over the past three weeks.

Carol Batchelor, the UNHCR representative in Turkey, said there was a global responsibility to look after the refugees.

"The basic needs of the Syrian refugees vastly outweigh the support and funding from the international community," Batchelor told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Syrian refugees in Turkey exceed 1 million mark

The number of Syrians in neighbouring Turkey has surpassed 1 million, the Turkish deputy prime minister has said.
Syrian refugees in Sanliurfa.

There are more than 20 refugee camps in Turkey near the roughly 500-mile border with Syria housing more than 220,000 people. But the bulk of people who have crossed the border are living in Turkish cities, mostly in the provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. They have taken advantage of the "open border" policy maintained by Turkey, a staunch opponent of the regime in Damascus, towards Syrian refugees.

The Turkish deputy prime minister, Besir Atalay, told a news conference on Thursday that the number of Syrians in Turkey had reached 1.05 million since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began more than three years ago. It began with largely peaceful protests but has become increasingly bloody, with a number of jihadist groups joining the fight to depose Assad and no end to the civil war in sight. Activists put the number of people killed at more than 160,000.

Friday, June 20, 2014

How Europe is failing Syria's refugees

The statistics are sobering: In just over three years of violent conflict, nine million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes. Around two thirds remain within the fractured state, while somewhere between two and a half to three million are eking out an existence in neighboring countries. Fewer than 100,000 have found safety in Europe.

The figure is glaringly at odds with EU rhetoric on human rights and its advocated approach to the refugee crisis. A Commission document published last month urged countries neighboring Syria to keep their borders open, "in line with international humanitarian law principles for the passage of all civilians without distinction."
Yet its own controlled and patrolled borders are virtually impenetrable. That those kept at bay are fleeing the horrors of a war triggered by the pursuit of the very democratic values supposedly upheld within the bloc’s bounds, reads like a bitter irony.

But Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International, is not surprised by the bloc’s iron gates policy towards Syria’s displaced. "We have seen a lot of what the EU is doing to keep people from reaching Europe," he told DW. "They are very good at physically closing off their borders and preventing people from leaving the country they are in."