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Perceptions of Syrians in Turkey

This article is a summary of the study “Syrians in Turkey: Social Acceptance and Integration,” which was conducted by the Hacettepe University Migration and Politics Research Center-HUGO in six cities based on interviews with Syrians and locals and analysis of the media and NGOs. Over 1.8 million Syrians arrived in Turkey and accepted under “temporary protection” status between April 2011 and December 2014. The efforts of the Turkish government and society has spent 5-5,5 billion dollars on the crisis. Turkish society has been overwhelmingly accepting of Syrians. However, concerns and objections are increasing as the permanency of Syrians in Turkey becomes more visible. Therefore, it is essential to develop strategies on permanency with the support of Turkish society.

Perceptions of Syrians in Turkey
Syrian refugees who fled the civil war in their country are seen at an urban renewal area where the buildings were demolished in the Süleymaniye neighborhood of İstanbul, Turkey. AA / Arif Hüdaverdi Yaman
 

Introduction

Following the harsh crackdown on demonstrations against the Assad regime, which began on March 15, 2011, Syria has fallen into a civil war. As a consequence, there has been a tremendous and dramatic flow of refugees into neighboring countries. Over 4 million Syrians have had to flee the country, which has had a population of 22.4 million; The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defined the event as “the biggest migration flow in late history.”1Turkey with its 911 km shared border with Syria has become one of the largest host nations for displaced Syrians. The first inflow of Syrian refugees to Turkey consisted of only 252 people on April 29, 2011. However, by March 2015, almost in 4 years the number of migrants reached 1,858,000. The Turkish government stated, “The borders are open for the guests who flee from war and torture.” Syrians have been provided with “temporary protection” from the start of the conflict and despite of all internal pressure, social anxiety, security concerns and the financial burden, the government continued its policy. By January 2015, although the official numbers point out 1,8 million of Syrians, the estimated number is over 2 million of Syrians. Furthermore, as UNHCR warns, arrival of newcomers in massive numbers should be expected.2

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