Turkey 14 Apr 2015 12:55
After the outbreak of war in Syria in 2012, a large part of the Kurdish population of Rojava in Syrian Kurdistan has sought shelter in Turkey. Many of these refugees passed at first through refugee camps in eastern Turkey and left due to the harsh conditions. Others succeeded to enter Turkey otherwise and to make their own way to major cities. The situation for refugees in Istanbul shows two distinct tendencies. For Syrians, refugees of war are given what is called "temporary protection," which involves more help from the government, while for Kurds, the government of Turkey offers what it calls "temporary asylum."
In a wide spectrum of refugees with greater or lesser economic capacity, some have found accommodation in neighborhoods with Kurdish communities already present, while other parts of the refugee community have been forced to squat abandoned buildings. To start the asylum process requires an application to the Turkish government and a separate one to the UNHCR (for recognition of refugee status), however some do not posess the necessary identification to even begin. A high percentage of refugees in Istanbul arrived in the city directly from the refugee camps along the Turkey-Syria border. They have less opportunities and greater chances of being arrested by the authorities and being sent back to the camps.
People living in the poorest neighborhoods, such as Tarlablaşı, which extends nearly down to the main tourist streets of the city of Istanbul, are now confronted with a new restructuring plan implemented by the government of Prime Minister Erdogan. The continuous flow of refugees who come to Turkey from Syria, and the difficulties Kurdish refugees face in being recognized as asylum seekers by the Turkish government indicate a situation that is far from ending.