Turkey’s Syrian Refugees: Toward Integration

The Syrian conflict has produced the most compelling humanitarian challenge of the 21st century. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance with 3.9 million who fled the country and 7.6 million internally displaced persons in Syria. With no end to the conflict in sight, these numbers simply continue to rise and the obstacles to resolving the crisis remain out of reach. Syria’s neighbors are under great pressure to host the refugees and most of them struggle to respond adequately.

According to unofficial estimates, Turkey currently hosts around 2 million Syrian refugees who are, comparatively speaking, in “better off ” than refugees in other neighbors of Syria. Turkey has done an exemplary job in hosting them and has received praise for its efforts by the international community. In fact, the Turkish government and the civil society have demonstrated nothing short of a “Herculean” effort in providing for the Syrian refugees over the past four years. Nevertheless, there remain serious shortterm and long-term challenges ahead in ensuring the well being of the refugees in countries neighboring Syria. These more long-term impediments need to be addressed to contain the potential fall-out of the integration of Syrian refugees  and risk to the social stability in neighboring countries with the ongoing conflict in Syria. The international community, for its part, needs to play a much more substantial role in helping Turkey and other neighbors of Syria in shouldering this enormous burden.

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