Syrian migrant children in Turkey quit schools for smuggling

Syrian migrant children in Turkey quit schools for smuggling

Syrian migrant children in Turkey quit schools for smuggling

AFP photo

Syrian migrants aged 13 and 14 have quit their schools to become smugglers in Turkey, according to a report released by the Turkish Police Academy, adding that Syrian children were able to earn up to 1,000 Turkish liras from smuggling, daily Milliyet reported on Feb. 7. 

Uncontrolled entries to Turkey and the lack of an identity registration system have paved the way for crimes, according to the report released in the Police Academy’s “International Mass Migrations and Syrians in Turkey” symposium held in the southern province of Antalya. Smuggling, financial crimes, unsolved murders and prostitution has been on the rise near the Syrian-Turkish border, while charity organizations involved in aiding migrants have remained equivocal on how they function. 

“Turkey was caught unprepared in the first wave of migration from Syria between 2011 and 2012. Migrants who arrived in the southern province of Hatay’s Reyhanlı district in 2013 were not required to give information and register. In order to get the migrants living in Reyhanlı registered, efforts were carried out to determine where the Syrians lived by visiting every house. Fake passports were a common occurrence,” the report said, adding that Syrians living under temporary protection in the district reached 35,000 by September 2014. 

“As of the end of 2013, the settled population of the district was nearly 62,000. This clearly shows that Syrians under temporary protection were in dense population. In 2014, the number of Syrians was increasing every passing day, as the population reached nearly 100,000. The most significant issue was uncontrolled entries. The charity organizations involved had not registered properly. When controls on borders weren’t carried out properly, oil smuggling started,” it said. 

According to the report, Syrian women have become victims of forced prostitution. “The fact that Syrian women are involved in prostitution is an important issue. Women have become victims of forced prostitution. It is also very common among Syrians to marry off underage girls to 18-year-old boys. When a girl becomes pregnant and wants to benefit from health services, she faces laws and the situation is taken to a legal level. According to the laws, the perpetrator of the crime is mostly the mother, father or the husband. These people can get sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. Thus, making Syrian refugees become more victimized. Incidents like these trigger reports against Turkey to emerge in other countries,” it added. 

The report stressed that one of the problems that the refugees continuously faced was unsolved murders. 

“There are murders or assassinations targeting refugees by terrorist organizations. These kinds of murders are not easy to track because they are committed professionally, and sometimes their dead bodies cannot be found. It is common that terror groups in Syria track Syrians in Turkey,” it said. 

The report has also said that Syrians in Turkey had become and continue to be subject to hate crimes. 

“When hate crimes are emerging, in a situation where the police’s and judiciary’s awareness on hate crimes are lacking, the capacity to fight against hate crimes decrease. Syrians are seen as a source of threat by the society and they are stigmatized as those threatening the societal order,” the report said.

According to the report, commercial activities carried out by migrants in Turkey are often abused by tax evaders.