CHP report on Syrian refugees
There is a widespread conviction that the decision to leave the European Union in the Brexit referendum was the result of a reaction by those fearful of refugees.
The refugee issue is one of the most important issues of the 21st century.
Is Turkey, which is hosting 3 million refugees, devoting enough attention to this issue?
The report by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) reveals to what degree Turkey has failed to integrate refugees.
The report, which is the most comprehensive one I have come across recently, was prepared by the Commission to Monitor Migration and Migrants established in September 2015.
The report includes field studies and face-to-face interviews conducted in refugee camps as well as on the Aegean coasts by the head of the commission, Malatya parliamentarian Veli Ağbaba, and eight other MPs.
Hacettepe University, Koç University and several NGOs like Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation contributed to the report.
Reading the report, one sees better what kind of a human tragedy we are facing: a human tragedy that is, unfortunately, not being sufficiently discussed and is not being frequently brought to the agenda by the press.
First of all, we are faced with this reality: Just 10 percent of Syrian refugees remain in the camps constructed by the government, with the rest outside. A big majority of them live in difficult conditions and sometimes 21 people try to continue their lives in one room without electricity or a bathroom; they are mostly at the edge of starvation.
There is another truth that has been revealed by the report. Those living in the camps, particularly children, are not that safe either.
The recent incident of rape that was discovered by parliamentarians in the Nizip refugee camp is included in the report.
There are separate reports about gangs forcing refugees into prostitution, the issue of child labor that includes cases of Syrian children being forced to work 12 hours a day for 100 liras per week or the issue of Christian Syrians, who are estimated to number around 45,000.
Armenians who have fled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacks introduce themselves as Arabs in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat where they have found refuge.
The report claims that Turkey has spent 24 billion liras on Syrian refugees in the course of the past 4.5 years.
Suggestions in the report
What does the report suggest?
It suggests first of all that Turkey lift the geographical limitation put on the 1951 Geneva Convention – effectively meaning that only Europeans can be defined as refugees – and that the same rights be given to those who are not recognized as refugees due to that caveat.
It also recommends the establishment of a Migration and Harmonization Ministry to enable the integration of refugees.
Just these two steps could pave the way for progress on this human tragedy. As the report suggests, we are in the middle of a “war of conscience.”