Syrian refugees: Uprooted and out of school
Hürriyet photoBy most measures, Turkey has been generous to the 1.36 million Syrians who fled there from the civil war to the south. The country hosts over a quarter of all Syrian refugees. It does so with far less foreign aid than its neighbors, meaning Turkish taxpayers shoulder a disproportionate cost .
Yet Syrians in Turkey are labeled as guests of the state, not refugees. The lack of refugee status hinders outside oversight and assistance, and deprives the Syrians of rights guaranteed under international conventions. These agreements give refugee children the right to education, and their parents the right to work.
Some 325,000 Syrian youngsters are out of school in Turkey. The Syrian opposition government’s education minister says they represent a “lost generation” in danger of becoming a “mafia of terrorists, drug dealers, and thieves.”
With their status so precarious, Syrians in Turkey cannot easily advocate or organize. Because most Syrians cannot work legally, poverty and exploitation are rampant.
“We don’t know the language of rights,” said Abdul, a Syrian father whose brother was killed in a demonstration in Homs. “There were no rights in Syria.”
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