Turkey, Syrian migrants

1 in 2 Syrians living in Turkey no longer wants to return to Syria

Less than 7% of Syrians living in Turkey, where there are 3.6 million registered refugees, plan to return to Syria.

An in-depth study on Syrian refugees and migrants living in Turkey presented to a subcommittee of the Turkish parliament shows surprising data, including the fact that more than half of them no longer want to return to their country even if the civil war ends and there is a regime change.

The study, carried out by the Centre for Migration and Integration of the Turkish-German University in Istanbul, indicates that there are currently 3.6 million Syrians officially registered living in Turkey, and notes a rapid and constant increase in the level of happiness among the Syrians residing in Turkey, especially in the last 3 years.

According to the report, the percentage of Syrians residing in Turkey who agree with the phrase “I will never return to Syria” was only 16.7% in 2017, but according to the latest data – corresponding to 2019 – it already rises to 51,8%. At the same time, while in 2017 60% of Syrians agreed with the phrase “If the civil war ends and a government close to my ideology comes to power, I may return”, in 2019 only 30% supported this statement.

The authors of the study have highlighted in their presentation to parliament the tremendous change in mentality that these data imply, since it seems that after almost a decade of civil war in their country, the majority of Syrians have given up on the idea of ​​returning to their homeland: only 6.8% of Syrian migrants in Turkey plan to return.

Syrians now only want Turkish citizenship

Another interesting fact is that few Syrians want dual Syrian and Turkish citizenship, while the majority want to have only Turkish nationality: that is, to become de facto Turkish citizens and live in Turkey. Those responsible for the study compare the situation with that of the Turks who emigrated – due to different circumstances – to Germany in the 1960s, and highlight the fact that there have been no major problems between Turks and Syrians.

“The number of people living in (refugee) camps is only 1%. We live with them side by side. Things could have gone much worse. I think the people of Anatolia have acted (with the Syrians) in a very considered way”, underlines the director of the Centre for Migration and Integration, Murat Erdoğan.

“In Turkey, about 3 million people (Turkish citizens) move to other provinces every year. This has shaped an ‘accept the newcomer’ mentality in Turkish society,” Erdoğan explains.

680,000 Syrian children go to school in Turkey

Other data highlighted by the report is that 600,000 Syrians were born in Turkey and 680,000 Syrian children are enrolled in Turkish schools; however, the percentage of Syrian women working in Turkey is extremely low: only 6% have a job.

Although the contribution of Syrians to the Turkish economy is estimated at around €63 million per year to Turkey’s GDP, the cost of educating the 680,000 Syrian children alone is €680 million… every year.

EU aid to refugees does not cover even 10% of costs

To date, Turkish State estimates the funds spent to assist Syrian refugees in Turkey at about 34,000 million euros, while the aid promised by the EU only totals 6,000 million euros to be distributed over several years, of which to date Ankara has only received half, about 3,000 million euros.

In Turkey, only the Esenyurt district in Istanbul already hosts 220,000 Syrian refugees: almost twice as many as countries like Sweden and 40% of those hosted by all of Germany, the European country that has received the most. Apart from these two countries, no other EU state is hosting more than 50,000 displaced Syrians.