More than 4,000 refugees find comfortable home in Sakarya

March 01, 2012, Thursday/ 15:25:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

Over 4,000 refugees residing in the northwestern province of Sakarya say their quality of life has been excellent since seeking asylum under a UN program that began last year.

Professor Ezgi Tanrıverdi of Sakarya University told the Cihan news agency Tuesday that a sweeping report on asylum seekers' standard of living launched by the university has found that most are “very happy” with the living arrangements provided as part of a partner program between the UN and the Turkish government. “I've even learned that some refugees have called loved ones in their home countries to tell them to come to Sakarya,” Tanrıverdi said.

The report claims that the refugees, most of whom emigrated from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine, overwhelmingly cited predominantly Muslim Turkey's cultural and religious similarities to their home countries as Turkey's chief attraction for Muslim refugees.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the official UN refugee agency, determines the legal status of refugees in Turkey and typically organizes the resettlement of asylum seekers to countries in Western Europe. With a green light last year from Ankara, however, the UN for the first time began to settle large numbers of asylum seekers in Turkey.

“These days, its commonplace to see foreigners on the streets in Sakarya,” Tanrıverdi told Cihan. “Many of us are now even next-door neighbors with them,” she stated.

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