The status of Syrians: “guests” or IDP?
For the ordinary Turk the Turkish government has been generously supporting the Syrian people suffering under the wrath of a bloodthirsty dictator, they have provided refuge for over 100,000 people from our neighboring country while the international community does not share the burden of these people sheltered by Turkey.
According to sources from the Foreign Ministry, the cost of establishing and running “accommodation facilities” for people fleeing Syria has exceeded $400 million. Probably not only accommodation, food, health and such expenses, but “logistic humanitarian supplies” to the Syrian rebels fighting the Baathist government in Damascus are also included in that figure. Perhaps that is why there is such a huge discrepancy with the overall 380 million Turkish Liras (about $200 million) cost estimated by Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay. On the one hand, it is not a small amount of money at all that ought to be shouldered by one country, while on the other hand it is peanuts compared to the $300 million (reportedly paid back to Turkey) carried in bags to Tripoli to buyback friendship the Libya’s victors. Turkey is a flourishing economy; Turks love to pay whatever tax is imposed on them; how happy is the one who buys the most expensive fuel in the world. Turks learned to finance the most generous extravaganza their government might undertake while other governments cannot even dream about it.
Naturally, Turks have always been hospitable people. Most of the time they cannot turn their backs to suffering people, demanding help. I am not just referring to the historical Jewish migration from the inquisition. When hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian Turks or Iraqi Kurds were fleeing by the thousands, this nation was ready to warmly embrace them. It’s just the same for Syrians seeking refuge. Obviously as much as Turkey can afford our neighbors in need will find our help indeed. There is no question in that.
What is the problem then? We have to stop this empty talk that Turkey has been shouldering the cost of refugees alone and the international community has been reluctant in helping us. Yes, Turkish people are unaware of the realities. But, as is said, it is probable to deceive some people some time, but it is impossible to deceive everyone all the time. What is the status of Syrians at Turkish camps? Turkey with a reservation it placed in the convention on refugees is not recognizing refugees coming from the east. Thus, Syrian people at camps here are just “guests” of Turks; none of them has filled “refugee form” and thus recognized as refugee by the UN High Commission on Refugees.
Why Turkey is demanding creation of a buffer zone in Syria? Because while Syrians in Turkey are guests not eligible for international assistance, people gathered there would be “displaced people” eligible for assistance. Got it?