Syrians set for ballot in Turkish refugee camps

Syrians set for ballot in Turkish refugee camps

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Syrians set for ballot in Turkish refugee camps

Syrian refugees sheltering at one of the camps in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay suffer a harsh winter conditions. Refugees are getting ready for an election to select village headmen and councilors at Öncüpınar camp.

Syrian refugees living in camp in the southern Turkish province of Kilis will take part in elections this month to select village headmen and an administrative council.

Refugees aged 18 and over will vote for the administrative representatives of different camp neighborhoods on Jan. 17, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Electoral rolls have been released in the Öncüpınar container city, where nearly 14,000 refugees are currently sheltered. A total of 17 candidates, including three women, will run to be chief of their districts, while an 18-member administrative council will also be elected. Each of the six districts in the camp has to have at least one female candidate, who are also required to be over the age of 30.

The local governor’s office is providing the candidates with technical support such as placards, and the candidates will be able to launch election campaigns with bi-weekly speeches.

The elected representatives will support the administrative services of their districts - such as the coordination of humanitarian assistance, security, health, education and religion - together with the local governor’s office.

The official told the Daily News that the Syrian citizens would thus be able to practice democracy in the camps, which is currently not possible in their homeland.

Turkey has opened its borders to refugees fleeing from violence in their Syria and has so far given shelter to nearly 153,000 people, according to official figures. A total of 13 tent cities have been established in Turkey, in addition to a container city in Kilis. There are five tent cities in Hatay, two in Şanlıurfa, and three in Gaziantep and one each in Kahramanmaraş, Osmaniye and Adıyaman.