Most Syrian refugees in Turkey happy, don’t feel discriminated against


Syrians do not feel excluded in Turkey, which hosts the largest refugee population in the world, according to a new report, but working conditions, temporary status and now the conflict in Ukraine complicate their stay.

Some 80-90% of Syrians say they have adapted to Turkey, according to the study. (AA Archives)

Most Syrians who fled the civil war in their country and who live in neighboring Turkey are happy and do not want to return home, according to a new study.

Syrians do not feel excluded or discriminated against in Turkey, which hosts the largest refugee population in the world, Murat Erdogan, director of the Ankara-based Asylum and Migration Research Center (IGAM), told AFP. ‘Anadolu Agency, citing a new report.

“Syrians seem generally satisfied with their life in Turkey,” Erdogan said, referring to the findings of the latest data from an annual report “Syrians Barometer-2020: A Framework for Achieving Social Cohesion with Syrians in Türkiye.”

The report is supported by UNHCR Türkiye and is expected to be released next week.

The report, now in its third edition, is based on face-to-face surveys.

The researchers conducted surveys of 2,259 Turkish citizens in 26 provinces chosen by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). In addition, a total of 1,414 families were interviewed to receive information on nearly 7,000 Syrians under temporary protection in 15 provinces.

“In 2017, the rate of those who said they did not want to return to Syria under any circumstances was only 16%,” Erdogan said, citing data from previous editions of the study. “Then that went up to 34% in 2019 and later to 58%.”

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Working conditions, temporary status

The number of Syrians living in Turkey is now around four million and, according to the Interior Ministry, nearly 175,000 Syrians obtained Turkish citizenship between 2011 and 2021.

According to the latest edition of the study, there are two issues that most concern Syrians in Turkey.

“One is their temporary status, as it presents a major hurdle for them thinking about the future,” Erdogan said.

The other area of ​​concern is the working conditions of Syrians, as in general they “stand on their own two feet” but their working conditions are difficult, he said.

“When we ask the Turkish public if Syrians have adapted to life with Turks, they complain about Syrians, but when we ask Syrians themselves, they think they have adapted to Türkiye. 80 to 90% think so,” he said. Explain.

He said the Turkish public used to see Syrians as victims and oppressed people fleeing war, but has recently started seeing them more and more as a problem.

According to the research, the Turkish public sees Syrians as one of the biggest problems facing Turkey, after the economy and terrorism, Erdogan said.

He also pointed out a contradiction in this regard, as Turks and Syrians have been living side by side in the same country for more than a decade now.

“We live relatively peacefully. So the expectations of the Turkish public and what is actually experienced diverge,” he added.

READ MORE: US envoy to UN: Turkey going through ‘the best for Syria aid’

Ukrainian conflict and refugee agreement

Erdogan called the 2016 agreement between the European Union and Turkey on refugees an “important turning point” for relations between Ankara and Brussels.

“But unfortunately not in a very positive sense,” he said.

Turkey’s execution of the 2016 agreement with the EU is widely credited with stemming a growing refugee crisis, and Turkey has touted its success in defending its borders – also the de facto border of the EU. EU.

According to Ankara, the EU has also renounced political commitments under the agreement, including the liberalization of visas for Turkish citizens traveling to Europe, the opening of new chapters for Turkey’s accession process to the EU and negotiations on upgrading the EU-Türkiye customs union of 1995.

With this agreement, the EU has effectively made Turkey “a strategic partner” rather than a candidate for the bloc, he added.

Although the EU has been criticized for not doing enough to share the burden, Erdogan said that “outside the EU there is no support” for Turkey.

Stressing the need to update the deal, Erdogan said the ongoing attack on Ukraine – now in its fourth week – would make a new deal between Turkey and the EU “a bit more difficult “.

The conflict has sent a flood of Ukrainian refugees to neighboring European countries – more than 3.38 million at the latest UN count, and still growing – including Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova and Turkey.

As this new flow of refugees continues, the EU budget for other refugee aid will be reduced, he said, “because new needs have started to emerge, and those needs are increasing”.

Syria has been mired in a fierce civil war since early 2011, when Bashar al-Assad’s regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Hundreds of thousands of people have since been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN figures.

Source: AA

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