Syrian refugees in İstanbul placed in Red Crescent camp

Syrian refugees in İstanbul placed in Red Crescent camp

Thirty-five Syrians who recently fled the civil war in their country try to make new lives in a park in Bahçelievler, İstanbul. (Photo: Today's Zaman)

December 04, 2013, Wednesday/ 18:11:00/ CUMALİ ÖNAL

The advent of cold weather has prompted the İstanbul Governor's Office to place Syrian refugees in the city, who have been living in tents, in a Turkish red crescent camp in the city's Pendik district.

İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu posted a statement on his Twitter account earlier this week, saying that the governor's office has plans to place Syrian refugees in the city in a Turkish Red Crescent camp in Pendik.

“The living conditions of Syrian refugees outdoors in our city have been attracting our attention for a while,” Mutlu wrote in his tweet, adding that the refugees were being frequently told that they could be taken to Turkish Red Crescent camps but had rejected the offer.

The Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) has also announced that the Turkish Red Crescent's camp in Pendik has begun to be used by Syrian refugees and that the logistics center in Tuzla could also be opened to refugees if necessary. There are plans to bring all Syrian refugees across Turkey together in camps due to the cold weather.

Out of the 600,000 Syrians who have fled the unrest in their country and taken refuge in Turkey, 100,000 came to İstanbul and are living in tents they have set up in open areas.

Although some of the Syrian refugees have been sent to the camp in Pendik, they still return to the areas where they had their tents.

Nazif Şahin, a resident of the Şirinevler neighborhood, told Today's Zaman that even though the Syrian refugees living in tents in front of the Yıldız Zöhre and Ulu mosques have been moved to camps by officials, they still come to the area and beg for money.

The residents of the same neighborhood say a solution needs to be found for Syrian children, who are begging on the streets, and that the number of schools where these children can go to needs to be increased.

Semra Akçay, a resident of the Yenibosna neighborhood, said Syrian refugees refuse to go to camps because they receive donations while staying in tents. Noting that it is impossible for them to stay outdoors during the winter, she said she supports the governor's office's decision to take the refugees to a Turkish Red Crescent camp.

Civil society organizations warn that the absence of a state unit to deal with Syrian refugees who refuse to stay in camps could lead to many problems for these people and they can be abused by illegal organizations or get involved in crime or begging.

The Syrians who refuse to stay in the camps established close to the Syrian border have scattered to all parts of Turkey. Those without any skills work in the textile, construction or agricultural sectors, while those with a profession find jobs with a lower salary.

The fact that the Turkish government does not implement strict working criteria for Syrian refugees is cited as the main reason for their traveling to all parts of the country.

Turkey's opposition parties say having Syrian refugees all across the country could be a risk in the long run and that failure to fully control the border between Turkey and Syria could attract terrorist organizations and radical groups to the country.

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