Almost half of the Syrian population has been displaced since the onset of the civil war in 2012. The Turkish province accommodating the highest number of Syrian refugees in the country is İstanbul with 20 per cent according to Ajans Press (The media monitoring company). According to Ajans Press, Istanbul accommodates 561.159 Syrian refugees.

A look at the Syrian Civil War

  • In 2011, the Arab Spring which toppled the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt gave hope to pro-democracy activists in Syria. The protests were non-sectarian from the very beginning. As known, a large number of population in Syria consisted of Sunni Muslims while the Bashar Al-Assad’s family belongs to the Alawi sect. The security establishment in Syria also belongs to that sect as well.
  • Foreign intervention has played a key role in Syria’s civil war. Russia entered the conflict in 2015 and has been the main ally since then.
  • Since 2016, Turkish troops have launched military operations in the strategic places of the region.
  • Several peace talks took place in order to end the war. The first one was held in 2012.
  • Fighting in Syria continues on several fronts like Iblib and Eastern Ghouta
  • Turkey and the Free Syrian Army began in January 2018 a military operation against US-backed fighters and announced the capture of Afrin in March.
  • Now having gone on longer than World War II, the war in Syria made many people homeless, in other words turned many into refugees.
  • According to the UN officials, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are hosting most of the Syrian refugees.
  • Turkey has dealt with the issue of Syrian refugees as a matter of principle and has played a primary role in protecting the people.

A Snapshot of the Syrian Refugees in Turkey

  • In 2011, the first Syrian refugees crossed the border into Turkey. In 2013, Turkey has hosted some 600.000 refugees, 200.000 of them living in refugee camps.
  • According to UN estimates, the numbers are increasing. The Turkish people and the government, mainly through the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), responded generously to the refugees, offered them sanctuary and hospitality.
  • As a consequence of the intensifying conflict in Aleppo, the capacity of the state-run camps began to come under strain. By the second half of 2012 the Turkish government started taking measures to limit entry.
  • The refugee camps established by the Turkish government are impressive. The camps resembled well-established towns with primary and secondary schools, health clinics, community centers, supermarkets, playgrounds.
  • While the Syrian refugees living in camps are well-assisted, it is a different situation for those refugees living outside the camps.
  • It is known that, there are concerns about the rising rental costs and scarcity of accommodation in the border areas
  • The efforts of the Turkish government to make health care and education available to Syrian refugees merit commendation and support as well.
  • On the other hand, it should be noted that, some important social problems emerge as a result of the dramatic increase of Syrian population in the country. The increases in begging and petty crime are examples of that. This shapes the host communities’ attitudes towards Syrian refugees. Host communities’ attitudes also depend on economic factors like unemployment rate.
  • Lastly, it is noteworthy to say that, Turkey’s acceptance of refugees has contributed to its global image while many European states followed an exclusionary political stance.
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