85 pct of Syrians don’t want to go back, integration is solution: Minister

85 pct of Syrians don’t want to go back, integration is solution: Minister

Barçın Yinanç - ISTANBUL
85 pct of Syrians don’t want to go back, integration is solution: Minister

DHA photo

Some 85 percent of the nearly 3 million Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey do not wish to return to their homeland under the current circumstances, Family and Social Policies Minister Sema Ramazanoğlu has said in Istanbul.

Sustainability is important in terms of addressing the problems of Syrians, and “the solution is integration,” said Ramazanoğlu, becoming one of the first Turkish officials to use the word in an indication that the government is coming to recognize that the Syrians are here to stay. 

Ramazanoğlu made the comments to a dozen women journalists on Jan. 29 in Istanbul.

The fact that the Syrian refugee problem was among the priority issues on the journalists’ and the minister’s agenda was indicative of how the issue has taken precedence in several ministries’ workload, including the Family and Social Policies Ministry, which have all been tasked with dealing with critical domestic issues.

Due to a decades-old Turkish policy, refugees from places other than Europe are not granted refugee status, meaning the Syrians that fled the war for Turkey have only been granted a temporary protection status in which they were identified as “guests,” implying a temporary situation.

Ramazanoğlu said a new “migration management” department had been established in the ministry to deal with the problems in an institutionalized structure, adding that the ministry wanted to register all the Syrians who are not living in camps. 

Recalling that 150,000 babies were born to Syrian families last year alone, Ramazanoğlu said, “These are Turkey’s babies.”

While the ministry has provided assistance in terms of food, clothing and shelter, these are short-term solutions, she said. “The real solution is integration and for that, the most important step is learning the language, having a job and getting a work permit.”

She said “family centers,” working under the ministry in several cities would organize language courses for Syrian women. Syrians will also have access to education in Turkish, said the minister amid debates over whether Syrians should be educated in Arabic.

Zero tolerance on violence 

“We are intervening in every legal case in women’s murders and fight to the end so that the culprits get the heaviest sentences,” said the minister in regards to the murder of women. A legal amendment that will include the murder of women as crimes that cannot be subject to any reduction in sentences should be endorsed, she said. 

“We are following this issue,” said Ramazanoğlu after several culprits escaped with reduced sentences. “We have zero tolerance on violence.”

Ramazanoğlu said the ministry would be working actively in the southeast which has witnessed violent clashes between the security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ramazanoğlu will be in Diyarbakır and Mardin over the weekend to inspect the fieldwork underdaten by her ministry.