Turkey’s bill totals $8 billion for 2.1 million Syrian migrants over last 4.5 years

Turkey’s bill totals $8 billion for 2.1 million Syrian migrants over last 4.5 years

Fevzi Kızılkoyun - ANKARA
Turkey’s bill totals $8 billion for 2.1 million Syrian migrants over last 4.5 years

A girl carries cartons of soup as Syrian refugees queue for food as they rest beside the highway on their way to the border between Turkey and Greece in Edirne on September 17, 2015. AFP Photo

Turkey has spent over $8 billion for more than 2.1 million Syrian migrants in the last 4.5 years in line with its “Open Door Policy” with Syria. The country's spending is over $2 billion (5.3 billion Turkish Liras) annually to support Syrian migrants, surpassing the Turkish Interior Ministry’s budget. 

In April 29, 2011, a dramatic flow of Syrian migrants into Turkey started at Turkey’s border gate with Syria, Cilvegözü, amid escalating domestic fights in Syria. Turkey then opened its doors to the first Syrian migrant, followed by millions over the last four years amid security concerns due to escalating attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

According to data from the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) of the Turkish Prime Ministry and a number of international organizations, a total of 12 million Syrians have been displaced since the onset of the Syrian civil war. Some 8 million of them moved to other parts of Syria and the remaining 4.2 million left their own country. Over half of these 4.2 million Syrians flocked into Turkey. 

Turkey has spent over $8 billion for Syrian migrants for the last 4.5 years. This amount is equal to 24 billion liras at today’s currency rate. International organizations have contributed just around $418 million (1.2 billion liras). 

When Turkey’s annual spending for Syrian migrants at 5.3 billion liras is compared to the country’s state budget, the seriousness of the picture becomes clearer. 

Some 4.5 billion liras has been allocated for the Interior Ministry for 2016. The planned budget for the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is 6.4 billion liras for the next year. What is spent on Syrian migrants is much more than the Interior Ministry’s budget and closer to Diyanet’s budget. 

In line with its “Open Door Policy,” Turkey has not sent any fleeing Syrian migrants back. The AFAD has continued to hold aid campaigns since the very beginning of the crisis with the contribution of several ministries. 

In 2013, Turkey began a biometric ID project to enable Syrian migrants who took shelter in Turkey to benefit from education and health services, as well as track Syrians who were involved in any criminal activities. In line with the project, which is run under the leadership of the AFAD, biometric IDs were offered to 2.05 million Syrians, whose fingerprints, ID information and residency information were recorded. These Syrians were given “temporary protection status” by the Turkish state. Newcomers have also been registered. When any Syrians leave the Turkish city in which they are registered, they need to revise their records by applying to the official points with their official cards to be able to benefit from health and educational services. 

System online in 81 provinces

While 258,472 Syrians and 15,000 Iraqis stay in AFAD’s 25 shelters, the remaining 1.9 million Syrians are located in Turkey’s largest cities, primarily Istanbul. The latest studies have shown Syrians are spread over the country’s 81 provinces. Some 250,000 Syrian children go to school; this figure is expected to rise to 460,000 by the end of the 2015. 

According to data from the AFAD and international organizations, some 6,923 Syrians continued on to other countries by official channels. Some 43,429 Syrians have been saved by Turkish security units as they attempted to reach Europe via the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. A total of 670,685 migrants from other countries, mainly African countries, Afghanistan and Libya, transited to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea without passing through Turkey. A total of 3,161 migrants have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe so far in 2015, according to official data. 

512,909 Syrians in Europe

While Turkey hosts over 2.1 million Syrian migrants, this figure is at 512,909 across Europe. There are over 400,000 Syrians in Istanbul and 180,000 in the southeastern province of Kilis on Turkey’s border with Syria. 

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has tried to assist Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon in handling the huge flow of Syrian migrants. The UNHCR, which needs a total of $4.5 billion but could collect just $2.5 billion in 2015, has estimated that around half of Syria’s total population would need help by the end of 2015. The region’s needs have reached $2.9 billion, according to the U.N. agency. The UNCHR has said Lebanon and Jordan asked for $449 million and $380 million, respectively. The human aid demand from Syria was more than $1.4 billion, said the agency. All of these help demands, which hit around $5 billion, have constituted the largest need for help ever. 

In numbers: 

Number of Syrian migrants in Turkey: 2.1 million

Number of Syrians offered biometric IDs in Turkey:
2.05 million 

Number of Syrian shelters in Turkey: 25

Number of Syrians located in camps: 258,472

Number of Syrians who have passed through Turkey to other countries in official ways: 6,923 

Number of Syrians who have been saved by Turkey while crossing the Aegean and Mediterranean seas to Europe: 43,429

Total amount spent by Turkey for Syrians in 4.5 years: $8 billion

Total international aid offered to Turkey: $418 million

Number of displaced Syrians: 12 million

Number of Syrians who have escaped abroad: 4.2 million

Number of Syrian refugees in Europe: 519,909 

Monthly pocket money given to refugees who enter Germany: 143 euros 

Monthly pocket money given to refugees located in camps: 216 euros 

Syrians by country: 

Turkey: 2,138,977

Germany: 125,441

Serbia: 109,054

Sweden: 80,360

Hungary: 54,125

Austria: 23,757

Netherlands: 18,096

Bulgaria: 15,714

Denmark: 13,230

Switzerland: 8,683

Britain: 7,510

France: 8,050

Belgium: 8,230

Spain: 6,253

Norway: 7,845

Greece: 3,969

Montenegro: 2,962

Cyprus: 2,622

Romania: 2,332

Italy: 2,168

Macedonia: 2,057

Malta: 928

Poland: 718

Finland: 656

Croatia: 352

Czech Republic: 304

Luxembourg: 241

Portugal: 188

Albania: 187

Slovenia: 187

Ireland: 101

Bosnia and Herzegovina: 100

Latvia: 89

Slovakia: 61

Estonia: 42

Lithuania: 28

Iceland: 14

Liechtenstein: 5