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Syrian refugees in Turkey: a burden or benefit?

19 December, 2016



This second paper of the DCAF-STRATIM paper series by M. Murat Erdogan analyses the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey, and the resulting challenges for both the refugees themselves and for Turkish society. The author argues that although the Turkish government does not officially acknowledge Syrians as refugees, Turkey has maintained an open door policy and provides them with considerable opportunities, rights and services. The author calls on Turkey to review its approach towards Syrian refugees as the current approach is based on the wrong assumption of it being a emporary phenomenon.

The author expects a high probability that significant numbers of Syrians will permanently remain in Turkey. Since the first wave of Syrian refugees reached Turkey on 28 April 2011, the flow has not halted. With the Syrian civil war in its sixth year, expectations for a peaceful Syria in the short- and medium-term have faded considerably. The author calls for smart strategies, in line with human rights, and supported by Turkish society, for integration and co-existence based on efficient registration, better coordination between relevant agencies, a focus on education and the provision of working permits.