Most of the Syrian refugees in Turkey are here to stay

Most of the Syrian refugees in Turkey are here to stay

The most recent survey of Syrian refugees conducted by the research company A&G found some interesting results. According to the survey carried out face-to-face with more than 4,000 men and women living in 11 provinces across Turkey, 75.8 percent of refugees are happy to be living in Turkey at the moment.

Out of the total number of respondents, 83.4 percent said they were happy with the Turkish state’s attitude toward them and 72 percent were happy with the medical care given to them. 

“A vast majority of the refugees say they would not go to another country even if they were given the opportunity. If they are provided the means and the opportunity, they plan to stay in Turkey permanently,” said Adil Gür, the founder of A&G. 

Gür’s statement corresponds to what Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin told me some time ago when I visited the city. Gaziantep hosts approximately 50,000 Syrian refugees in camps located around the city, while there are more than 350,000 refugees living in the city. 

Gaziantep has been one of the first stops where refugees have taken shelter since March 2011, when the civil war broke out in Syria. The mayor of the city in 2013, Asım Güzelbey, even hired the mayor of Aleppo at the time, who was among those taking refuge in Gaziantep with his family. 

Mayor Şahin told me that locals should make long-term plans to live with the “neighbors” they have embraced since 2011, because most of them will end up staying here for good. 

She said they were also taking care of Syrian children’s education, and were able to enroll 90 percent of refugee children in Gaziantep in schools. 

“If these children had stayed in Aleppo they might not even have been alive today, let alone being at school,” Şahin said.

What Şahin has started as a “long-term living plan” in Gaziantep is a first in Turkey. The municipality introduced a 10 percent quota for hiring Syrians, and she has suggested that the city has to grow 20 percent in order to be able to accommodate the Syrians living there. 

“In a study we conducted with McKinsey, for the construction of 50,000 homes for refugees, sewage systems, green areas and transportation means, we need 450 million Turkish Liras,” she said. 

While criticizing Western countries over the issue of aid, she emphasized that only Japan had provided suitable loans for refugees. 

She is right. Just for Gaziantep’s infrastructure needs in hosting 350,000 refugees, the city requires a huge amount of funds. Education and health are not included in this. I don’t even know whether the exact necessary budget has been calculated for the 3 million Syrians currently in Turkey who want to lead a decent life.

The European Union has declared that it has sent 676 million euros to Turkey for Syrian refugees in 2016. But in fact, according to the terms of the stalled EU-Turkey refugee deal, Brussels should have given 3 billion euros in 2016 and another 3 billion euros in 2017. 

As 2016 comes to an end, it should be recognized that the promised 3 billion euros have not arrived from the EU, which is only making life more difficult for the Syrians here.