Syrian refugees forced to leave unofficial camp in Istanbul

Syrian refugees forced to leave unofficial camp in Istanbul

İdris Emen ISTANBUL / Radikal
Syrian refugees forced to leave unofficial camp in Istanbul

Radikal Photo

Syrian refugees taking shelter in tents at a median strip in Istanbul’s Bayrampaşa district have been removed from the area, with their tents being burnt, leaving them hopeless on the streets of the city.

Municipal police officers from Bayrampaşa Municipality reportedly did not offer a new place to the refugees to stay after evicting them from the area. Some of the refugees began to wait at the Esenler Bus Terminal to escape the rain.

One of the refugees, Muhammet from Aleppo, said they had been staying in those tents for three months, waiting for help from officials.

“They moved us out of the tents first and then set them on fire. Nobody has shown us a place to stay,” he said.

The Municipal Police Chief of the Bayrampaşa Municipality, Yasin Sarıkaya, said the refugees were evicted because of increasing complaints from both the owner of the land and citizens.

“We decided to evict them because epidemic illnesses have emerged in the camp. At that moment, two families who did not want to go to an official refugee camp set their own tents on fire,” Sarıkaya said. “We wanted to send them to refugee camps, but they preferred to go to their relatives.  Some have stayed in Istanbul, but most were transferred to Urfa, Diyarbakır and Mersin. The municipality paid for their transfer.”

Some 100 families who had fled Aleppo were staying in the camp, where they suffered from a lack of water as health conditions steadily worsened.

One refugee said they did not want to go a camp in Kilis because the camps offered by the government are mostly occupied by Arabs, stressing they want a camp for Turkmens only.

“We are Turkmen. We did not even get along with Arabs in Aleppo. The camps are dangerous for us. If we go to those camps, we would shoot each other,” he said.

The number of the Syrian refugees in Turkey has exceeded 90,000 while 224,000 of them live in official camps provided by Turkish government, according to the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD). Around 676,000 refugees live off their own means, primarily in Istanbul and other border cities, such as Gaziantep, Urfa and Kilis.