Hatay tension eases as trade still falls down

Hatay tension eases as trade still falls down

HATAY- Hürriyet Daily News
Hatay tension eases as trade still falls down

Refugees from Syria is no longer security risks, say locals. AA photo

Security problems and tensions arising from the presence of Syrian refugees in the southern province of Hatay are mostly solved, but local businesses are badly suffering, according to residents in the city.

The presence of refugees living in the camps just outside Hatay has caused tension between the locals and the refugees, although security problems inside the city have been mostly solved after those Syrians renting houses by themselves were invited back to the camps by the Turkish authorities.

“There were thousands of Syrians renting houses in Hatay, but the authorities told them to empty the city center after complaints from the locals increased dramatically about a month ago. Now, most of them have left to the other cities or camps,” a lawyer and estate agency owner in Hatay, Fuat Cemaligil, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

“There were incidents such as the harassment of women on the streets, or some of the refugees not paying restaurant bills. However, such events have not taken place for the last month or so,” said a taxi driver in Hatay, Metin Korkmaz. The local economy, however, is going through some extremely difficult times, according to local business owners.

‘Tourism almost finished’

“There used to be two million dollars flowing everyday to Hatay after visas were lifted between Turkey and Syria. This was cut sharply after the war started in Syria and the problems between the two countries developed,” said the owner of a local hotel, Rasim Narin, adding that the people who were suffering the biggest losses in Hatay were the local shop owners.

“Tourism has almost finished, the shuttle trade has finished. There were going to be new hotel investments in Hatay, but these have all finished,” he said. Selahattin Mıstıkoğlu, a business owner and member of the Young Businessmen Association in Turkey said the biggest source of income in Hatay had come from imports, but that this had almost finished now.

“Syria was the main route for the transportation companies in Hatay. Now this is over because the crisis has hit the transportation industry the most,” Mıstıkoğlu said.

Mıstıkoğlu also said local business people were having difficulties in paying off their loans to banks, but that the banks were still forcing them to pay off all their debts.