ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has become the primary focus of the migrant exodus in Europe as refugees in Turkey reach a peak. European Union immigration policies have clashed drastically with Turkey’s attitude to and mediation of the crisis over the past year. Turkey’s precarious political climate is also exacerbating the problem, especially after the attempted coup to oust incumbent President Recip Tayyip Erdogan in July.
More than 3.1 million refugees from disputed areas all over the region have been registered in Turkey. But, only 250,000 have been able to secure places in the 26 expansive refugee camps in Turkey, all of which are over their maximum capacity. There are regular food and housing shortages and the quality of infrastructure and education is often deficient.
The Killis Oncupinar, Isyalihe and Nizip refugee camps are some of Turkey’s most prominent. An overwhelming majority of the refugees are from Syria. They are fearful of Turkish authorities and the future they will have in Turkey. Nizip refugee camp, in particular, is infamous for its child rape atrocities.
Turkey and various European Union countries are working to crack down on mass migration. Under an E.U. deal made in March this year, Turkey resolved to hold refugees in five neighboring Aegean islands while their asylum applications are under consideration. This move highlights how refugees in Turkey are spreading to other regions.
Under the E.U.-Turkey deal, Turkey will take back illegal migrants crossing deeper into Europe from Greece. In return, the E.U. will resettle thousands of Syrian refugees who hope to seek asylum in Europe. This policy will curtail the number of illegal migrants entering Europe, and the E.U. is still supporting refugees in Turkey through the provision of $3.3 billion in aid. Turkey’s inclusion in the European Union has also been debated in recent months.
Immigration and asylum laws have become a lot more stringent. The 2015 policy of open borders in Europe has unfortunately not been implemented in 2016. Security is now a priority for many European countries due to the growing influence of extremist organizations.
Amnesty International has condemned deals and negotiations that involve stemming the flow of migrants. An effective solution that incorporates the concepts of open borders and regulation is, therefore, vital to pacify all stakeholder countries involved. Restrictive measures should be set progressively and in proportion to the number of asylum applications that are received.
As the refugee camps in Turkey continue to face insurmountable pressure, the need for emergency services and humanitarian need becomes increasingly vital. The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), financed by the E.U., is providing refugees with important healthcare packages and mental health services. The Humanitarian Implementation Plan for Turkey (HIP) also works on key areas like education, protection and healthcare with the help of more than half a billion euros. Moreover, the Turkish Red Crescent is doing outstanding work in education.
It is essential to channel aid sustainably and efficaciously in order to cope with the demands of refugee camps in Turkey. As refugees in Turkey reach a peak, government-run camps are facing many problems with conditions for refugees. To combat this, Turkey should consider working on the grassroots level and focusing on activities and policies of that nature. Projects like ‘Cucula,’ ’Calais Action’ and ‘Refugees Welcome’ are building a strong foundation for solidarity and compassion to aid refugees.
– Shivani Ekkanath