Most Turks want Syrian refugees to go home

Turks consider the presence of Syrian refuges as a burden on their livelihood and as a source of unfair competition in the labor market with unregistered Syrians. (AFP/File)
Turks consider the presence of Syrian refuges as a burden on their livelihood and as a source of unfair competition in the labor market with unregistered Syrians. (AFP/File)
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Updated 24 December 2020

Most Turks want Syrian refugees to go home

Most Turks want Syrian refugees to go home
  • A survey of Turkish attitudes shows falling tolerance of the presence of refugee population

ANAKARA: A new poll showed a hostile picture among Turks to the integration of Syrian refugee population in the country.

The survey, entitled “Dimensions of Polarization in Turkey 2020,” was conducted by Istanbul Bilgi University in cooperation with German Marshall Fund of the United States through face-to-face interviews across 29 cities with a representative sample of 4,000 people from Turkey’s adult population.

It found that 86 percent of respondents want the 4 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey to go back home, a question that has become a common denominator across almost all political parties.

More than 3.6 million refugees fled to Turkey following the civil war in Syria in 2011, but the Syrian community in Turkey has been the target of several violent attacks and murders over recent years.

Turks consider the presence of Syrian refuges as a burden on their livelihood and as a source of unfair competition in the labor market with unregistered Syrians, informal businesses and thousands of Syrian-led companies launched each year arousing great concern.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said that Turkey welcomed millions of Syrian refugees who were fleeing the civil war, but the current statistics showed social acceptance of refugee population was falling.

“It is a sign of a lack of Turkish leadership — of the false demonization of refugees as scapegoats for Turkey’s economic and other problems — that so many people in Turkey have now turned on the refugees, even though the deadly threats to them remain the same in Syria,” he told Arab News.

Deniz Senol Sert, a migration expert from Ozyegin University in Istanbul, agrees.

“During the local elections of March 2019, Turkish government used the refugee issue as a bargaining chip both domestically and at the international front. It sent the message to its own voters and to the EU that it can open the gates for letting all these refugees flood into European countries,” she said.

The Turkish authorities therefore keep signaling to Turkish society that the flow of Syrian refugees is in their control, while they are also sending a warning to the EU, which is reluctant to offer visa-free access to Europe to Turkish citizens.

In the meantime, Sert added, the government legitimized its controversial cross-border military operations into Syria with a so-called safe zone project to settle all refugees living in Turkey.

“Syrian refugees in Turkey are well aware that they are not welcomed by the host community. They even face serious obstacles when they try to open new business in Turkey although it is a kind of integration tool for this community. Neither the government nor the opposition parties can produce a pro-integration discourse to change these worrying statistics in a positive direction,” she said.

Last year, Turkish government approved the deportation of 1,000 Syrians in a week from Istanbul to Syria’s Idlib province, sparking debate about the timing of the move.

Sert said that the projects that involve Syrians are mostly conducted with a top-down approach, although in the European countries the municipalities assume this responsibility because they know the real problems and expectations on the ground.

“There are ideological and structural deficiencies that push people to consolidate their anti-refugee stance, and this trend feeds into frequent racist attacks on Syrians in Turkey,” she said.

In October, a Syrian refugee named Muhammed Dip Hurih was killed in a dispute with his Turkish neighbors over parking in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, while in the same month a 14-year-old Syrian child was stabbed to death in central Anatolia.

On Thursday, the European Commission has extended two humanitarian flagship programs in Turkey until early 2022 to provide basic needs to more than 1.8 million refugees and assist more than 700,000 children to continue their education.

But the EU programs are not seen as enough to boost integration by the society at large, with Turkish government accusing Brussels of falling short on its commitments of financial support.

Similarly, Syrians Barometer, a survey released last year under the coordination of Murat Erdogan, a professor at the Turkish-German University in Istanbul, showed that Turkish society considers the issue of Syrians as one of its top 3 problems.

“The Syrian refugees have turned into a politicized topic that reflects the already established political divisions within the society. The voters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) follow their party’s political line, while the opposition designs its emotional stance according to their political disapprovals,” Prof. Erdogan said.

“Even in places such as southeastern Sanliurfa province, known for its multicultural characteristics, 70 percent of residents are against street signs in Arabic. The first flow of Syrian refugees has been perceived as a project of the ruling government to change local demographics. Granting citizenships to the Syrian refugees were also perceived negatively by different segments of the society,” he added.

However, Prof. Erdogan also underlines that his survey showed that 85 percent of Turkish citizens prefer isolating Syrian refugees in camps or in safe zones rather than having them integrated into the society.
 


Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19
Updated 28 February 2021

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19

Israel vaccinate Palestinians with Israeli work permits against COVID-19
  • Palestinian medical teams would be stationed at checkpoints to administer the vaccines
  • Of the 5.2 million people, only 32,000 have received the vaccine to date

JERUSALEM: Israel will administer COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians who work in Israel or in its settlements in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli liaison office COGAT said on Sunday.
The vaccination campaign, which could apply to around 130,000 Palestinians, will begin within days, COGAT said.
Shaher Saad, secretary-general of the Palestinian Workers’ Union, said thousands of Palestinians who work in the Israeli service and industrial sectors had already been vaccinated privately by their employers inside Israel.
He said Palestinian medical teams would be stationed at checkpoints to administer the vaccines, by agreement with Israeli authorities.
Israel has given at least one dose of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine to more than half of its 9.3 million population, including Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
But it has come under international criticism for not doing more to enable vaccination of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinians have received around 32,000 vaccine doses to date, for the 5.2 million people who live in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli officials have said that, under the Oslo peace accords, the Palestinian health ministry is responsible for vaccinating people in Gaza and those parts of the West Bank where it has limited self-rule.


Jordanian ministers sacked for attending dinner breaching COVID-19 rules

Jordanian ministers sacked for attending dinner breaching COVID-19 rules
Updated 11 min 13 sec ago

Jordanian ministers sacked for attending dinner breaching COVID-19 rules

Jordanian ministers sacked for attending dinner breaching COVID-19 rules
  • A local news website said the pair had gone to a dinner at an Amman restaurant attended by nine people
  • The sackings come amid Jordanians’ increasing unease about the handling of the pandemic

AMMAN: Two Jordanian ministers resigned on Sunday for violating coronavirus-containment regulations, days after one of them had vowed “zero tolerance” against COVID-19 rule breakers.

Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh asked Interior and Justice Ministers Samir Mubaidin and Bassam Talhouni to step down for violating the defense order put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

A government source told Arab News that al-Khasawneh's directives, which were immediately endorsed by King Abdullah, came after the two ministers were at an event that brought together more than six people.

A local news website said the pair had gone to a dinner at an Amman restaurant attended by nine people, in violation of a defense order that allows a maximum of six.

Mubaidin chaired a meeting with senior security officers last Thursday where he had stressed the need to abide by defense orders, notably following the curfew, wearing masks and physical distancing. 

He vowed “zero tolerance” against violators, adding that these measures were aimed at protecting public health.

A royal decree was issued on Sunday accepting the resignation of Talhouni and Mubaidin. 

Another decree assigned the deputy prime minister and minister of local administration, Tawfiq Kreishan, to take on the Ministry of Interior, and for the minister of state for legal affairs, Ahmad Ziadat, to take on the Ministry of Justice, as of Sunday.

Jordan has toughened its health regulations, reinstating a curfew on Fridays and extending lockdown hours, with the country witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases. It has recorded around 387,000 COVID-19 infections and 4,675 deaths.

The sackings come amid Jordanians’ increasing unease about the handling of the pandemic.

“The sacking of the two ministers should have been in fact linked to the failure in handling matters related to citizens’ lives, including vaccines, the health situation and food security,” political analyst Amer Sabaileh told Arab News.


Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya
Updated 28 February 2021

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

Turkey summons Iran ambassador over accusations Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty: Al Arabiya

CAIRO: Turkey has summoned the Iranian ambassador over accusations by Tehran that Ankara is violating Iraqi sovereignty, Al Arabiya TV reported Sunday. 

Turkey said it expects from Tehran to stand by Ankara in “combating terrorism”. 

Last week, Iran summoned the Turkish ambassador in Tehran over comments made by Turkish officials accusing Iran of destabilizing the region by getting involved in Iraq and Syria. 


Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark
Updated 28 February 2021

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran health ministry says virus deaths cross 60,000 mark

Iran's health ministry said the country's coronavirus fatalities broke the 60,000 mark on Sunday, as the Islamic republic battles the Middle East's worst outbreak of the illness.
"Sadly in the past 24 hours, 93 people lost their lives to Covid-19, and total deaths from this disease reached 60,073," health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a televised address.
Iran has registered a total of 1,631,169 infections, according to the ministry.


Russian helicopter makes emergency landing in Syria

Russian helicopter makes emergency landing in Syria
Updated 28 February 2021

Russian helicopter makes emergency landing in Syria

Russian helicopter makes emergency landing in Syria
  • Russian Defense Ministry said the helicopter was not fired at

AMMAN/MOSCOW: A Russian Mi-35 helicopter made an emergency landing due to technical problems during a flight over Syria’s northern Hasaka province, state agencies quoted Russia’s Defense Ministry as saying on Sunday.
“The crew was quickly evacuated to the airfield. There is no threat to lives of the pilots,” the RIA news agency cited a Defense Ministry statement as saying.
The helicopter was not fired at, it added.
Syrian state media said earlier there were reports of a Russian helicopter crash in northeast Syria that killed the pilot.
It said the site of the crash was in Hasaka province, near Tal Tamr close to a Russian base.