Syrian refugees in Turkey split on ceasefire prospects: Survey
Syrian migrants and refugees wait in front of the Turkish Öncüpınar crossing gate, near the town of Kilis, to return to Syria on February 9, 2016. AFP Photo
Syrian refugees living in Turkey are divided on whether the recent cessation of hostilities would lead to more permanent peace in the country, according to a survey conducted by the Ankara-based Research Center on Asylum and Migration (IGAM).
When asked whether the recent declaration of cessation of hostilities would lead to peace in Syria, 56.7 percent said “yes,” and 43.3 said “no.” Asked whether the declaration made any change regarding their decision to stay in Turkey or move to another country, 46.6 percent said “no.”
The poll was conducted with 235 Syrians living in urban areas – not refugee camps - in the western province of İzmir and the southern province of Mersin. Of the respondents, 57.5 percent were men and 42.5 percent were women, with 45.7 percent of them having lived in Turkey for at least one year. The poll was conducted from Feb. 27, the beginning of the cessation of hostilities, to March 1 with support from Association for Solidarity with Syrian Refugees based in İzmir and Social Syria Society based in Mersin, both associations founded by Syrian refugees.
Of the respondents, 88.9 percent said they had heard of the cessation of hostilities declaration and 87.7 percent said they were pleased with the declaration.
Metin Çorabatır, the head of IGAM and a former spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR in Turkey, said the survey was only a minor one. However, he also expressed hope that it would mark the start of healthy work aimed at giving voice to the expectations of Syrian refugees.
Recalling that Syrian refugees are not represented at the U.N.-led Geneva talks, Çorabatır said refugees have still not been able to find an adequate platform to express their needs and priorities.
IGAM plans to conduct similar surveys on a regular basis that could over time serve as a “barometer” for efforts focused on Syrian refugees,” Çorabatır also said.
“These surveys could be used as guides for steps to be taken for the better integration of refugees in Turkey. The fact that they are still taking an active interest in political developments in their home country may be a sign that they are willing to return, unlike what many people have been arguing. Psychologically, they are still there,” he added.