Syrian refugees in Turkey 'to rise to 3 million'

Syrian refugees in Turkey 'to rise to 3 million'
Syrian refugees in Turkey may exceed three million in the near future, while employment conditions may further deteriorate, said a report jointly prepared by Turkey's top employer body and academics.
2 min read
13 December, 2015
A rush-hour demonstration in Manhattan, New York on Thursday showed support for Syrian refugees [Getty]
The number of Syrian refugees will rise to more than 3 million in the next few months, according to a new Turkish report.

The burden of handling most of the newcomers will fall on southern Turkish provinces, and it is feared this would further impact unemployment rates there, it said.

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey currently stands at around 2.2 million, according to the report prepared by the Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TISK) and the Hacettepe University Migration and Politics Research Center (HUGO).

The report concluded that only ten percent of this population - reported as the poorest and most fragile population by the study - currently resides in refugee camps, while the rest are being dispersed throughout Turkey, particularly in southern provinces.

There, they account for more than 50 percent of the population now, and in cities like Kilis, up to 95 percent of the total population.

The report, which tackled the economic losses to Turkey over four years as a result of taking nearly 50 percent of the total number of Syrian refugees in the region, pointed out that unemployment in southern provinces far exceeded the national average of 10 percent.

"True, Syrian refugees have been an economic burden on Turkey, at a cost of nearly $8.5 billion to Ankara so far," Syrian economist Samir Rumman told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

Rumman cited the increased burden on public services, particularly in border regions, and the impact of the influx of Syrian labour on local unemployment.

"However, this is only half of the picture. Syrian refugees also stimulated the Turkish economy, and have started up to 1,284 businesses in Turkey this year alone," according to the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) Rumman cited.

For his part, Ayman Fahmi Abu Hashem, head of a refugee affairs committee in the Syrian opposition interim government, criticised the report.

"It focuses on only one scenario, whereby the number of refugees in Turkey is projected to certainly increase beyond 3 million," he told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

The report also highlights the difficulties facing refugees in Syria in terms of unemployment, education and living conditions, without proposing solutions, as Abu Hashem said.

"Experts must come up with real solutions, such as the safe zone," he added, in reference to the no-fly zone Turkey has proposed in northern Syria to protect civilians.

The United Nations previously said that the number of Syrians who now depend on aid has reached 13.5 million, up 1.2 million during the past ten months.