Majority of Syrian refugees in Turkey want to stay - study

Forty four per cent of Syrian refugees in Turkey said they wouldn’t go to the safe zone Turkey is currently setting up in northern Syria, according to a study by A&G Research Company Director Adil Gür.

Another 30 per cent said they would maybe go to the safe zone, Gür said in his presentation on refugees at the general assembly of workers’ union Türk-İş.

The Turkish military on Oct. 9 launched a military incursion into Kurdish-held territories in northern Syria to set up a safe zone between Turkey and what the country considers to be terrorist groups, with further plans to resettle therein up to two million Syrian refugees.

When asked whether they would stay in Turkey if they were to obtain Turkish citizenship, 44 per cent said they would, while 23 per cent said they wanted to go back to Syria under any circumstances, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported.

According to Gür’s study, almost all Syrian refugees in Turkey live with their families, while migrants and refugees of other nationalities often have no family in the country.

Almost all refugees said they felt safe in Turkey, and 85 per cent said they were happy to be living in the country.

The study showed less than 10 per cent of Syrian refugees believing their future in Turkey would be negative.

“Turkish citizens on the street are not this satisfied,” Gür was quoted by Cumhuriyet as saying.

A majority of refugees in Turkey live on less than 2,000 liras ($ 345) a month, the study showed, while only 10 per cent said they had difficulty making ends meet. 

The poverty threshold in Turkey for a family of four is 6,724 liras ($ 1,160).

Some 500,000 children were born to Syrian parents in Turkey, with eight per cent not going to school, the study showed. Half of Syrian households have at least one child born in the country.

Since the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, an estimated 3.6 million Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey. 

Out of the 3.6 million, some 80,000 have obtained Turkish citizenship.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said 365,000 Syrians returned to Turkish-controlled areas in Syria since 2016.

The Syrian refugees were a determining topic of discussion in Turkey’s local elections in March this year, with studies pointing to the refugee crisis as an important factor for the ruling Justice and Development Party losing the elections in the megacity Istanbul.