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Challenges and Opportunities of Syrian Migration to Türkiye: From Syrian and Turkish perspectives

تحديات وفرص الهجرة السورية إلى تركيا: من منظور سوري وتركي

Introduction:

In 2024, the challenges and opportunities in terms of Syrian migration to Türkiye remain a focus of considerable interest. The second meeting of the Civil Society Salon, which was organized in the Turkish city of Istanbul, on March 4, 2024, embodies continued efforts to understand and address these challenges and seize the available opportunities. The meeting presents an interactive scene that expresses the common challenges and the common ambition to look for comprehensive and effective solutions, from both Syrian and Turkish perspectives.

The Civil Society Organizations’ Platform (ULFED) serves as a platform for dialogue and exchange, where leaders and influencers from both the Syrian and Turkish arenas come together to discuss issues related to migration, integration and coexistence. This comprehensive cross-group discussion has been considered an important step towards better understanding for the challenges facing Syrian refugees and Turkish society, as well as identifying opportunities to enhance integration and cooperation.

This second meeting, organized by ULFED, was not just a passing event, but rather a real opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences. It was also a new starting point towards a more in-depth understanding of those challenges and anticipating the available opportunities.

We will delve into in-depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities of Syrian immigration to Türkiye, and will also shed light on the important discussions created by this prominent event in the world of politics and society, through an in-depth analysis of the issues discussed in the meeting and reviewing the presented proposals and ideas.

 

Review for the history of Syrian immigration to Türkiye and its social and economic impact:

At the commencement of this important meeting, the moderator of the session, Mr. Muhannad Buwaydani, has reviewed the history of Syrian immigration to Türkiye. This history extended to include a series of events and developments that shaped the direction of the relationship between the two countries and affected the social and economic aspects of the two societies.

In order to understand the current reality, we should return to the past, to the history of Syrian immigration to Türkiye, as the roots of this close relationship between the two countries extend back to long decades of shared history. In our preliminary review, we recall the path of this migration, and how it was not just a demographic shift, but rather a living experience that shaped many economic and social aspects in the two countries.

Understanding the shared history between Syrians and Turks is considered an essential element to understand the current situation, as social and economic relations extend over decades. We should understand that relations starting from ancient trade relationships to mutual cultural influences formed over years of shared history.

The meeting has also reviewed the impact of Syrian immigration on the social and economic aspects of Turkish society. However, the social and economic structure in Turkey has witnessed important transformations as a result of the presence of a large number of Syrian refugees. This impact was not only local, but it also affected the regional and international arena, where new challenges and potential opportunities were formed, which require a joint response and international cooperation accordingly.

This historical review highlighted the importance of a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities encountered by both societies. It also represents the basics of starting point for discussing current topics and developing future strategies to deal with renewed challenges during the Syrian migration to Turkey.

Upon reviewing the history of migration, we considered the social influences, opportunities for integration and solidarity, as well as the challenges that emerged as a result of this lively and continuous communication between different cultures and social norms.

Understanding the shared history, and its resulted impacts, has been considered an essential step towards identifying future pathways and directing efforts towards achieving balance and stability in the societies concerned. In light of this historical review, we can get better understanding for opportunities and future challenges and, accordingly, form more effective strategies to promote coexistence and solidarity between Syrian and Turkish people.

 

First Session: Challenges and opportunities for displaced Syrians: problems of adaptation and integration and proposed solutions:

During the first session, the discussion focused on the challenges and opportunities facing displaced Syrians, with considerable focus on the problems of adaptation and integration, as well as presenting proposed solutions to these complex challenges. Mr. Mohammed Algan, a former member of the Turkish Parliament, highlighted the importance of improving the government policies related to Syrian refugees, in order to ensure the required balance between the rights of refugees and the national interest.

Mr. Algan has also emphasized the criticism facing the policies of Justice and Development Party in terms of Syrian refugees. He pointed out that 70% of the party’s audience thinks that the current policies have made a mistake in dealing with this sensitive issue.

Despite this criticism, Mr. Algan has explained that there is an opportunity to improve the situation through convincing the party’s audience and making balance between the individual rights and the national interest. He also indicated the importance of the Immigration Department’s cooperation to achieve this goal.

Mr. Algan has also shed light on the political and social challenges facing the process of adaptation and integration for Syrians in Türkiye. In addition, he opens the door for achieving consensus and adopting the most effective policies to support refugees, enhance host community solidarity, and build bridges of communication and understanding between the communities concerned.

 

Second Session: Challenges and opportunities for Turkish people: economic and social pressures and ways of coexisting with refugees:

The second session focused on the challenges and opportunities facing Turkish people as a result of Syrian immigration. During this session, economic and social pressures imposed on Turkish society as a result of this phenomenon were reviewed. The participants have discussed the ways of coexistence with refugees and the importance of developing government policies to enhance integration and cooperation between Syrians and Turkish people.

In this session also, Mrs. Kinda Hawasli, Director of the Community Unit at the Syrian Dialogue Center, highlighted the importance of mutual interaction between government policies and the host community to ensure the success of policies related to Syrian refugees.

Mrs. Hawasli has stressed the importance of intertwining of the three elements – government policies, refugees and the host community. She also pointed out that these policies should develop so that they become a dual interactive process to form an essential part of the process of successful integration and coexistence. She also pointed out that this mutual process can lead to successful results in condition that there are integrated and harmonious efforts among all parties.

Accordingly, it has been clear that success in overcoming the economic and social challenges resulting from Syrian immigration requires radical changes in government policies as well as enhancing interaction and cooperation between refugees and the host community.

Sustainable cooperation, effective integration and peaceful coexistence between Syrian refugees and Turkish society, along with the maximum benefit from available opportunities, can be achieved through developing thoughtful and effective policies that allow positive interaction between all these aspects, as well as through unifying the joint efforts.

 

Open Dialogue: an opportunity to exchange opinions and ideas and propose solutions:

During the open dialogue session, all attendees had the opportunity to openly exchange opinions and ideas and propose solutions. This session has witnessed fruitful and rich discussions in terms of the ways of enhancing cooperation and forming deep understanding between Syrians and Turkish people, as well as developing policies and procedures that promote social and economic integration.

In this context, Mr. Khaled Al-Issa, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Civil Society Organizations’ Platform (ULFED), has presented a comprehensive vision of the experiences of refugees and the importance of understanding the historical and social context of their migration. “We are all refugees in this life, but the time and date of asylum differ.”, said Mr.Al-Issa. He added saying, “No one in the circle around him, near or far, can guarantee that he has been on this spot on earth since the creation of Adam.”

Mr. Khaled Al-Issa has also emphasized the importance of joint work, the importance of interaction and cooperation between individuals and different communities to achieve balance and understanding among all members of society. He also pointed out that empathy and solidarity with others is an essential part of humanity.

For his part, Dr. Mazen Kawara, Regional Director of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) in Türkiye, pointed out the need for Turkish laws to keep pace with the requirements of rapid development in the country. He also emphasized that the challenges constitute an opportunity to develop policies and procedures in line with the needs of refugees and the host community. He also stressed the importance of developing laws consistent with the rapid transformations in the Turkish society.

Dr. Hala Al-Ghawi, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity (SACD), shed light on the journey of Syrian refugees to Türkiye, indicating that they sought refuge in Türkiye in search of a safe haven and a decent life after they were forcibly displaced from their country. She also added that the current challenges have pushed many of the refugees to think and search for new options outside Türkiye, which, accordingly, highlights the importance of dealing with these challenges seriously and effectively.

On the other hand, Mr. Taha Al-Ghazi, a human rights activist, has stressed that the integration should be beneficial to both parties. He also has expressed his concern about the loss of identity and language among Syrian students in Türkiye. Moreover, he has called for the necessity of adopting policies that work to achieve balance for the interests of all parties and promote Peaceful coexistence between refugees and the local community.

On her part, Mrs. Dima Rajab has pointed out that the challenges encountered by Syrian refugees in Türkiye have increased significantly in recent years. However, Social media platforms have played an important role in the escalation of hate speech, which has increased significantly in the recent period and has greatly affected Turkish society. Mrs. Rajab has also emphasized that this challenge requires joint efforts to address it effectively.

The open dialogue session embodied a real opportunity to exchange expertise and experiences and provide constructive solutions that serve the public interest and enhance cooperation and solidarity among all parties of society. Moreover, it has left a positive imprint on the journey of building a better future for all.

It has been clearly demonstrated that constructive interaction and communication between various parties of society is of great importance in addressing current challenges, searching for appropriate solutions, and building a more harmonious and stable society.

 

Conclusion:

At the end of this important meeting, we emphasize that the efforts of the Civil Society Salon have yielded the desired results through enhancing communication and cooperation between the parties concerned, as well as through providing a platform for discussing practical solutions to the challenges of Syrian immigration to Türkiye.

This meeting confirms the commitment of the Civil Society Organizations’ Platform to strengthening cooperation and solidarity between the Syrian and Turkish communities, as well as building bridges of dialogue and understanding. The difficult and pressing issues facing the Syrian community in Türkiye have been highlighted through open communication and fruitful dialogues. Accordingly, the solutions that contribute to improving the situation and enhancing cooperation and solidarity in the affected communities were provided.

Through this important meeting, we find out that the Civil Society Salon represents a vital platform for communication and positive interaction between members of Syrian and Turkish societies. It has also been considered a bridge for communication and joint cooperation to improve the conditions of Syrians in Türkiye and promote peaceful and sustainable coexistence for all parties.

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