Red Crescent brings back hope to thousands of Syrians in Turkey

Publié: 22 mai 2013 12:29 CET

By Erkan Aksu, Turkish Red Crescent, and Giovanni Zambello, IFRC

“We arrived in Turkey about seven months ago” says C. M, who used to work as a farmer in a village near the Syrian city of Latakia. He and his family escaped into Turkey when the bombing started in their village.

“We left our relatives behind, and one of my brothers, who remained in the village, is now looking after our properties and lands. But from here we cannot get any news from them, and we are worried about their lives.”

M, who left Syria bringing his mother, father, wife and a three-month-old baby, is one of the over 170,000 Syrians currently assisted by the Turkish Red Crescent in the 15 tented camps set up at the Turkish–Syrian border.

“We are living in good conditions here, and the Turkish Red Crescent and the state of Turkey are covering all of our needs, which we are thankful for. But we wish the war would end soon and we can go back to our country.”

Thousands of other Syrians who have been living in Turkey for some two years now share the same thoughts as Mahmud: this sense of gratitude towards Turkish people and the feeling of being treated more as brothers and sisters than guests. But also similar wishes, like the end of the hostilities, the return home, to their friends and relatives.

“What I will not forget are also the friends I have made over the months here in the camp,” continues M. “We support each other here when problems arise, and I hope that this friendship will continue when we are back in Syria.”

A.M.M., 42, and his family come from Gebere, a Syrian village near the Turkish border, but they are originally from Turkey. “Turkish is our first language, but we learnt how to read and write it for the first time in the tented camp where are living now, after so many years. I am very happy,” he comments.

And, while the past remains painfully alive, M has hope for the future. “We lost not only our properties and all the things we built in a lifetime, but also our own people. However, we want our youth to be educated in Turkey and resume their professions when they return back to Syria. We will start our lives again once we are all back to our country.”

According to UNHCR, since early 2011 over 1.5 million Syrian citizens have fled to neighbouring countries as a result of the ongoing internal crisis. More than 190,000 Syrian people are now living under the temporary protection of the Turkish authorities in 17 camps. UNHCR projects that, by the end of the year, there will be up to 1 million Syrian people taking shelter in Turkey.

On 9 November 2012, the IFRC launched an emergency appeal for over 32 million Swiss francs (26 million euros) to support the Turkish Red Crescent – which, during the winter months, has focused on distributing food, as well as hygiene, medical or sanitation services and materials to assist temporarily protected people in camps.

“Even after many months since the crisis broke out in Syria, the plight of the hundreds of thousands who fled their homes remains a terrible reality,” comments Deniz Şölen, Coordinator for Governance Services and International Relations.

“From the very beginning, the Turkish Red Crescent has been providing a number of services to help people get back on their feet, including psychosocial support to overcome the trauma of the escape. And now more than ever, as numbers and needs continue to grow, we are working closely with partners and donors to strengthen our services while the number of Syrian families is expected to increase over the next months,” she adds.