Erdogan promises to send 1 million refugees back to Syria

09 May 2022 06:58 STI

By John Solomou
Nicosia [Cyprus] May 09 (ANI): Last Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reversing his previous policy, said his government was working on a project for the “voluntary and honorable return of one million Syrian refugees” to their homeland.
Erdogan claimed that some 500,000 Syrians have already returned to safe areas in Syria. However, the UN put the figure at 130,000.
Turkey currently hosts the largest number of refugees in the world: around 3.7 million Syrians have been granted temporary protection status, and more than 400,000 refugees and migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.
With increasing intensity and frequency in recent years, Turkish opposition parties are complaining that the influx of refugees poses a threat to the structure and culture of Turkish society and are demanding that they be sent back to their country.
For his part, Erdogan had accused his opponents of showing “inhumanity” and insensitivity to the tragedy of the refugees.
In one of his frequent policy shifts and perhaps because a series of opinion polls have shown that up to 85% of Turks strongly oppose Turkey taking in millions of refugees, Erdogan ordered the construction of 57,000 brick houses in the Idlib region of Syria, where 50,000 Syrian refugee families have been displaced.
In a video message shown during the inauguration ceremony of the new houses in Idlib on May 3, Erdogan said: “We did not only open our doors to save the life and honor of the oppressed, but we did and we are doing all possible efforts to bring them home.We are currently working on a new project for the voluntary return of one million Syrians.
He added that the project was carried out in coordination with local and international NGOs and local governments in 13 different regions in Syria.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition CHP party, commenting on Erdogan’s plan, said: “Erdogan has dropped these stories. Fugitives are still pouring in from the border… We’ve had enough of your lies. “
Kilicdaroglu has repeatedly said that when his party comes to power, he will send Syrian refugees home.
It should be noted that several human rights groups strongly dispute Erdogan’s assertion regarding the voluntary return of refugees and claim that some of them are returned against their will because they do not return to their old homes, but in new homes in other districts, under a government they are deeply suspicious of and in an impoverished country that offers them no prospect of normal life or security.
During the first years that the Syrian refugees stayed in camps, ordinary Turks showed them their solidarity, but as the refugees settled in Istanbul, the southern provinces and many cities of the country, and As the Turkish economy continued to deteriorate, public sentiment changed. and backfired, and opposition parties began calling on the government to send refugees back to Syria.
It is estimated that around 1 million Syrian refugees have found low-paying jobs in the underground economy – and because of this they are accused of disempowering Turkish workers who generally demand higher wages – and have created small businesses and distinct Arabic-speaking communities.
Social media started posting false information about the refugees, showing that they were leading an easy life, while ordinary Turks faced enormous difficulties to make ends meet and stirred up hatred against the refugees.
A glaring example of this occurred last week when a nine-minute video titled ‘The Silent Occupation’ appeared on YouTube showing a crime-ridden Istanbul in May 2043 when the city was taken over by refugees speaking Arabic, while the Turkish language is prohibited. High paying jobs were filled by Syrians while Turks were employed in menial jobs.
The film shows a young Turk working as a cleaner in a hospital asking his parents, “How could you let this happen when you were repeatedly warned that the Syrians were carrying out a silent invasion?
Hande Karasu, who made the documentary, falsely claims that Turkey is home to 8 million Syrians and since the majority of them do not want to return home and the fertility rate for Syrian women is 5, 3, by 2043 there will be 15 million Turks of Syrian origin, and therefore a Syrian part in Turkey is likely.
In a single day, the video, funded by Umit Ozdag, leader of the far-right xenophobic Victory Party, was viewed by more than 2.6 million viewers. The Victory Party’s main political platform is to target refugees for the economic hardships Turkey is facing.
Various polls show that 73% of Turks are unhappy with Erdogan’s asylum policy and the main opposition party, the CHP, is trying to capitalize on this discontent and win votes.
Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the ultra-nationalist MHP party and Erdogan’s government ally, described the uncontrolled migration as an “occupation of the country” that should be prevented. He even said that the thousands of refugees who traveled to Syria to celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday should not be allowed to return to Turkey.
Following Bahceli’s lead, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced that Syrians who returned home for the holidays would not be able to return.
Anthropologist Ayse Cavdar was quoted by Al-Monitor as saying that “public resentment towards refugees is increasingly explosive and xenophobia in Turkey has been normalized, if not outright legitimized. With its usual arrogance, the government plays first at escalating the refugee crisis and then solving it, hoping it sends back enough refugees to earn points with voters.But the ruling party is unlikely to find a solution to the refugee crisis, which has so many intertwined elements, both nationally and internationally (ANI)

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