NGOs call for distancing Syrian issue from Turkish political conflicts, election campaigns

A billboard in Istanbul for the presidential candidate in the run-off, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, with one of his promises to deport the Syrians - May 23, 2023 (Enab Baladi)

A billboard in Istanbul for the presidential candidate in the run-off, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, with one of his promises to deport the Syrians - May 23, 2023 (Enab Baladi)


The Civil Society Organization Platform (ULFED) called on Wednesday, May 24, to spare the Syrian refugees in Turkey from political conflict and electoral campaigns in order to avoid “the negative effects and serious consequences that it may have on the lives of Syrians in Turkey.”

ULFED’s statement on Twitter said that the Syrian refugees fled killing, displacement, and arrest towards Turkey, which is a human right stipulated in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and supported by many international conventions and treaties.

“Article 14 of the UDHR grants the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution. This right, in addition to the right to leave one’s own country.”  

Based on this principle, the ULFED considered that continuing to deal with the issue of Syrian refugees in the Turkish election campaigns and the political discourses of various parties makes them an unacceptable category to the host society.

The ULFED added that the use of the refugee issue as a “core” material in the political conflict and holding them responsible for social problems and economic crises by some parties contributed significantly to inciting hate speech against them in public and private institutions.

According to the statement, this discourse resulted in hate incidents that led to violence, murders, and loss of life.

In view of all the previous reasons, ULFED, which includes non-governmental organizations of Syrian origin and licensed in Turkey, said that the armed conflict in Syria is not a “civil war” but rather a systematic attack by the Syrian regime that has caused the Syrians to continue to resort to Turkey.

The statement added that the political parties that see the presence of the Syrians in Turkey as a burden should pressure the Syrian regime to lift the strict security practices of its people.

ULFED considered that the decision to seek asylum by the Syrians and to leave their country included material and moral devastation that the Syrians went through.

With the end of the first round of the presidential and parliamentary elections and the announcement of the transition to a second round, due to the failure to achieve 50 plus 1 percent of the decisiveness between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the anti-Syrian refugees’ rhetoric and promises to deport them intensified, in order to win the votes of those opposing the presence of Syrians in the country.

The presidential candidate for the opposition coalition, Kilicdaroglu, posted on his Twitter account on May 20 a video recording with the phrase “This is no longer an election, it is a referendum,” calling on young people to vote for him.

The propaganda video focused on the Syrian refugees residing in Turkey, indicating that there are ten million refugees, and 20 million more may come if the youth do not vote for Kilicdaroglu.

According to official figures in Turkey, the number of Syrians residing under the Temporary Protection Law (Kimlik), according to the latest statistics issued by the Presidency of Migration Management (PMM), is 3,381,429 Syrians.

In a recent development, the PMM in Turkey published an infographic on May 24 showing the number of foreigners in the country residing under temporary protection, including Syrian refugees as well as those residing under tourist residency.

According to the infographic, there are 4,990,663 foreigners residing in Turkey as a total number.

The PMM said at least 3,381,429 refugees have obtained Kimlik, mostly from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

There are also 300,720 refugees residing in Turkey under the international protection system.

Of various nationalities around the world, 1,308,514 people reside in Turkey under residence permits, including tourist, work or humanitarian residence, said the PMM.

The PMM  did not indicate in its statistics the nationalities of residents in the country under the aforementioned types of residency.

According to the same statistics, the number of “safe, dignified and voluntary” returnees from the Syrians in Turkey is 554,107.



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