Turkey as a shelter for Ukrainian refugees


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The Ukrainian crisis continues, and the Russian invasion is far from over. The most vulnerable are civilians, who numbered more than 7.7 million at the end of April, according to UN estimates. Internally displaced persons and refugees emigrating from Ukraine are included in this figure. Turkey is one of the destinations, and it has a long history of receiving refugees. This quick overview covers key facts and numbers about the ongoing crisis and Turkey’s role in refugee acceptance.

Since the commencement of the Ukrainian conflict, 58 thousand Ukrainians have fled to Turkey, according to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. Minister Soylu participated in the Net View Special show on TV NET, where he answered questions regarding the agenda. According to Soylu, roughly 30,000 of the 58 thousand Ukrainians who arrived in Turkey did so by land, with about 900 arriving by air via third nations. Soylu added that AFAD had set up tents in Ukraine and that 51 trucks of materials had been dispatched thus far. However, Turkey is not only a shelter for migrants from Ukraine.

The minister pointed out that Turkey is home to 3.75 million Syrian refugees, and that the government’s approach to migration differs from that of Europe. With cross-border operations in Syria, Turkey aspires to boost the region’s wealth, and migration cannot be slowed until the region is at peace, he said. His remarks come at a time when the West is being accused of being hypocritical on the subject of migrants. Due to their European identification, Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed with open arms, whilst Middle Eastern refugees have faced opposition and violence at borders.

As Turkey’s economy has deteriorated in recent years, the public’s predisposition to blame refugees has grown, and polls show that the majority of residents want Syrians to return. Tensions have erupted into violence, with attacks on refugees and the neighbourhoods where they live reported in Istanbul and Ankara. “The anti-refugee sentiment in Turkey has a lot to do with portraying Syrian and Afghan males as the ones who fled without fighting for their countries,” says one expert and reported by Al-Jazeera. Women and children, on the other hand, made up the first convoys conveying Ukrainians to Turkey, according to Omar Kadkoy, an expert at Turkey’s Economic Policy Research Foundation.

„As a result, populist media outlets and politicians could utilize comparable photos to build a picture of favoured/unfavourable asylum seekers and refugees, inflating anti-sentiment against specific vulnerable groups“, Kadkoy noted for Al-Jazeera. Furthermore, Turkey has free trade and drone agreements with Ukraine. The experts say drone diplomacy with Ukraine will go far beyond as Turkey started to host Ukrainian refugees.

Some analysts claim that “Turkey’s leaders, unlike many of their European counterparts, did not allow far-right populism and anti-refugee agitation to flourish in the country”. Its government has always understood that in order to create a successful refugee policy, the state and the people must be on the same page. As a result, it made a point of involving non-governmental organizations in the development of its refugee policies. As a result, Turkish non-governmental organizations have confidently offered much-needed assistance to Syrian citizens both within Turkey and beyond the Syrian border, considerably lowering the state’s burden.

It is hardly likely that Ukraine’s crisis will last for a bit more. This is why it is expected that more refugees will be fleeing the country towards various destinations such as Polan, Slovakia, Romania, and Turkey. It is of vital importance that the EU Member States continuously work together to advance their capacity to respond, in order to avoid the miscalculations that were ongoing within the last wave of refugee crisis during the years of 2015 and 2016.

Written by: Nenad Stekić

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