Syrian refugees Turkey’s most important problem after economy - poll

A new survey conducted by Turkish polling company PIAR has revealed that Syrians are ranked as the country’s second most important problem, following its ailing economy.

Eighteen percent of those surveyed said that Turkey’s some 3.5 million Syrian population is the greatest problem facing the country, while 26.4 percent said the economy, which is battling a crisis following a currency collapse last year that wiped 30 percent off the value of the lira, independent news site T24 reported.

The PIAR poll, conducted between July 6-11 with 2,640 people during in-person interviews, arrives amid reports of rising animosity against Turkey’s Syrian refugees, which analysts maintain is fuelled by Turkey’s stumbling economy and rising unemployment. Turks are increasingly resent Syrians, who they see as cheap labour taking over jobs and using services, according to a Reuters report published earlier this month.

Unemployment, the judiciary and education were listed as Turkey’s other most pressing issues at 15.6, 11.8 and 9.5 percent, respectively, according to the poll.

A total of 87.9 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t agree with the statement that “hosting Syrians is a humanitarian responsibility and I support the government policy,” while 83.3 percent didn’t agree with the statement saying “hosting Syrians is a humanitarian responsibility, but sometimes I feel uncomfortable.”

Of those surveyed 82.3 percent agreed with the statement “all Syrians must be sent back, I don’t like the government policy,” while 64.4 percent didn’t agree with the statement “Syrians with the exception of children and women must be sent back.”

When asked about a recent decision by the municipality Mudanya in the western Turkish province of Bursa to ban Syrians from accessing public beaches 72.5 percent of participants said they supported the idea. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is criticised for his once open-door policy for Syrian refugees, last week announced he was preparing a series of policy changes regarding the group, including the deportation of criminals and ending free healthcare services.