Refugee Crisis in Syria: Greatest Fear of EU, Great Hospitality of Turkey
Arab Spring, which started in 2010 and still has prolonged effects, has also penetrated Syria and protests against the regime have turned into a war in a short time. This process has resulted in instability and obscurity both in Syria and around the region. The war in Syria has led millions of Syrians to take refuge in different countries. Undoubtedly, Turkey is one of those main countries. Failure to find an international solution to the current crisis in Syria prognosticates that stability will not be assured for many years and the refugee issue that has world-wide effects will continue to grow. In this paper, we will analyze the refugee issue in terms of International Relations and the situation of Syrian refugees in this respect.
Migration, in its simplest definition, is the changing of location individually or en masse due to political, economic, and social reasons. By UN definition, migration means the permanent resettlement of a person in a different place than his or her country of origin; hence, change of habitation. Growing communication facilities and increasing awareness going hand in hand with the globalization, and political, economic and social crises in the international sphere have facilitated the international migration. Growing migratory movements lead to changing borders and commingling of different cultures. However, this situation has also led to the problem the clashing of cultures.
The issue of international migration, in other words, the refugee issue has been going on throughout history and has become one of the major issues of International Relations. Within the context of International Relations, refugees influence the host countries in terms of security, economy, social and cultural dimensions; in fact, they are now recognized as an IR actor.
Today, the situation of Syrian refugees has become an important issue in the IR debates. This debate has led to confrontations especially between the EU states and Turkey. Turkey has reacted against the xenophobic attitudes (hostility against foreigners) of the EU states towards Syrian refugees and inhumane treatment towards Syrians such as deportation. According to UN data, Turkey is the country hosting the largest number of refugees in the world. Approximately 3 million Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey after the war began. Turkey has accepted all the Syrians in this tough process and granted them Temporary Protection Status.
Nonetheless, together with the refugee crisis, concerns have risen in the Western states as they have wanted to benefit from Turkey as a solution partner in this matter. Turkey, on the other hand, aims at providing the safe return of the Syrian refugees by building safety zones at the border. Due to the uncertainty of the war in Syria, Turkey’s suggestion for the safety zone was not accepted for a long time. However, as a result of Western States’ direct confrontation with the refugee crisis, this issue has been put on the agenda yet again. Turkey is still exposed to population movements and flows of migration due to its strategic location that stands at the transition point of the Syrians.
Use of conventional weapons in the battles, in other words, shifting war fronts to urban areas and targeting civilians have led to increases in migratory flows. Moreover, countries that have been affected by the Arab Spring and the civil war in Syria have accelerated the movement of migration to neighboring countries. An international perception has been created assuming that the Syria-originated refugee issue is the sole responsibility of neighboring countries. Yet, all the states which are parties to the international system should focus on the issue and take permanent actions for its solution. Even though European states are closing their doors to the refugees; refugees’ being subject to violence and humiliation in cities; and Turkey’s reaction to all these occurrences have internationalized the refugee issue, no concrete and well-intentioned steps have been taken to find a solution. In this context, steps must be taken to ensure that the Syrians are sheltered in secure areas within Syria. Approaches such as hosting refugees in Turkey or in other countries are not long-term. Short-term refugee settlement solutions are also likely to lead to regional and international crises and conflicts because of the various threats to countries accepting refugees.
Although a massive refugee flow or migratory movement poses some threats for the host country, the refugee issue is primarily a humanitarian issue. In order to solve this humanitarian issue, global and regional actors should leave their conflicts of interests aside and meet at a human-oriented and peace-driven point. We will be waiting with great hope and curiosity of which country will achieve such success. Hopefully, the number of people displaced on the earth will decrease and peace will prevail in the world.