Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Nowhere to go, but never at home

A Syrian refugee woman carries her belongings as she crosses into Turkey at Akcakale border gate in Sanliurfa province, Turkey

'Turkey has most readily provided Syrians, from all strata of society, with an opportunity to resume a sense of normalcy in their lives. Syrian engineers, agronomists and medical professionals are able to use their expertise to give back to their host country by working in one of the several non-governmental and international organizations that are based in Turkey and provide humanitarian assistance across the border. Others, with considerably lower levels of education, are hired in restaurants or as day laborers where employers can get away with paying lower wages. Even so, compared to the policies of most Gulf countries — Kuwait has banned entry for Syrians altogether –  Syrians in Turkey are able to find work and send their children to schools. Refugee camps along the Turkey-Syria border, where more than 217,000 Syrians in Turkey reside, are considered to provide “better living conditions compared to those in other countries.”
Syrians often report being treated with disdain — at best, as guests who must eventually depart or, worse, as intruders who should be expelled immediately. Below the surface of the daily live-and-let-live miracles of Turkey’s support for Syrians as they attempt to restart their lives, one can sense the growing hostility from host communities toward the large Syrian populations living among them. Earlier this year, Turkish parents protested a school’s decision to provide afternoon classes to Syrian children; “Different culture, Different language, Different faith,” they chanted.
Many yet are hopeful they will be able to return to their homes in Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Homs. While only a few are optimistic about the future, if and when the dust settles, they retain pride in and patriotism for their country and remain resistant. When I asked a Syrian friend of mine if he would like to move to the United States or Europe, his response was emphatic: “We were born in Syria, we started the revolution in Syria and we will die in Syria.” '

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