Municipalities and Refugee Crisis: Ansar Policies and Numbers

Municipalities and Refugee Crisis: Ansar Policies and Numbers

Şefika Şule Erçetin (Lancaster University, UK & Hacettepe University, Turkey), Nihan Potas (Gazi University, Turkey), Şuay Nilhan Açıkalın (Lancaster University, UK), Nedim Özdemir (Ankara Directorate of National Education, Turkey) and Abdullah Mesut Doğan (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3322-1.ch003
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Abstract

Truly, while some countries are still grappling with policy issues to do with acceptance of the refugees in their respective countries, Turkey has become a safe haven to many, a refugee. This has not only featured the ordinary aspects of food, shelter, drinking water, clothing but also services like education, health, social services and transport assistance. Even more crucially, Turkey has offered other aspects bordering on integration, rights and freedoms, representation, mainstreaming and identity which are critical to the asylum seekers. This makes them feel at home especially given that they may end up staying for a long time or even never return to their homes. Such a process requires multi-dimensional legal and administrative regulation but Turkey has always come up with its own localized version of legal settings to accommodate spontaneous issues. This is what has distinguished Turkey from all other countries in the world given its immeasurable, priceless and invaluable handling of asylum seekers.
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Turkey And Migration

The year 2011 will always be remembered in the history of mankind due to different events. However, among them, the civil war that has entered its 5th year in Syria along with its cruel face and the migration waves attached will never be forgotten. The first entry of asylum seekers from Syria to Turkey took place on 29 April 2011 with the passage of 252 persons.

From this date, onwards, the numbers of asylum seekers and their intensity in the border regions have increased tremendously in tandem with the increase in local and regional conflicts as well as violence. Despite this, Turkey has followed the “open door policy” and in the first stage the “guest” status was applied on Syrian asylum seekers and after legal administrative arrangements, the status of “temporary protection” has been applied. Nevertheless, Turkey has continued welcoming Syrian asylum seekers.

As of September 2016, the number of asylum seekers in Turkey has exceeded 3 million. With this figure, Turkey is now the most refugee-hosting country in the world. In some provinces and districts in the border regions of Turkey, especially Kilis, the number of Syrian asylum seekers has surpassed the acceptable city population. Turkey has redefined the real and self-values of Anatolia in lieu of concepts of tolerance, sharing and humanitarian aid both on the world scale and in its own existence.

For this reason, it is important to emphasize the fact that examining the number of asylum seekers and legal regulations is quite insufficient in order to understand the Turkish case in terms of the concept of asylum seekers. The strongest side of the Turkish example is the historical consciousness and cultural genetic heritage of the Turkish people who see Syrian asylum seekers as “guests”. That is why the Turkish people have been involved in effective sharing of all issues regarding the expenditures on Syrian asylum seekers with local governments and NGOs, sharing about 25 billion dollars within five years. In this context, it can be said that the Turkish model is composed of more than a material and human dimension in the search for solutions to the crime created by the immigration phenomenon.

In the 5th year of the humanitarian crisis, while Europe and many other countries of the world are still undecided about the number of refugees to be accepted, Turkey has become a safe haven and home for homeless people and has set an example for the whole world. This paper was thus, prepared to bring the whole world up to speed regarding the projections of brotherhood, Ensor spirit exhibited by Turkey, local administrations and Turkish people to the asylum seekers.

Unique Ansar Policies and Asylum Seekers

Turkey's approach to asylum seekers is based on the religious values of the Ansar-Muhajir relationship in the cultural context. Who is an Ansar and Muhajir? The Ansar are the helpers, the supporters, the protectors. The muhajir is one who has migrated, migrant, or one who goes to settle in other places than his country. To be an Ansar is to share one’s home, heart, food with unconditional acceptance of siblings only for Allah’s sake without expecting any response.

To be an Ansar is to divide a bread as much as it is possible with a brother, in fact to fulfil the necessity of being a human being in general that is, to share with him without selfishness, to be with him, to lift him by hand and to be joyful in his life. In our tradition, the bitterness decreases as we share; and then heal. Happiness, joy, goodness multiply as long as we share. Even if I do not have anything, just only that I am here, means being an Ansar. Sharing is to know that something does not decrease as you share it, and that you are blessed as you share. Being an Ansar is to speak to the heart that shines in your eyes even if you do not know the same language, and to carry it in the heart for a common future as one people.

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Syrian Refugees And Numerical Facts

Numbers of Syrian Asylum Seekers in Turkey

Syrian asylum seekers located in Turkey are separated as those living in and out of the temporary shelter, but the figures given in the figures below are the total figures and how they have varied according to years. We can see the increase in Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey in Figure 1 and proportion of residents living in and out of the temporary centers for the total Syrian asylum seekers in Figure 2.

Figure 1.

Increase in Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey

Source: Stack, 2011; UNHCR, 2015.
Figure 2.

Proportion of residents living in and out of the temporary centers for the total Syrian asylum seekers

Source: GİGM, 2016.

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