Germany has decided not to renew the residency permits of about 100 Syrian refugees who left the country for Syria to visit their relatives located in areas deemed "safe."
By taking this blunt step, the German government has shown the limits of its understanding regarding the status of refugees.
At first sight, this looks almost rational: If anybody had to leave one's country because of vital threats such as murder, rape, blind bombing, gas attacks and the absence of any kind of statehood or protection, it would take the disappearance of these threats and implementation of a modicum of security to travel back.
However, if the situation in Syria (always changing daily, sometimes hourly) is taken into consideration, such an analysis falls very short of explaining the real issue. There are in fact about 8 million refugees who left Syria, and around 9 million refugees who left their homes and belongings within Syria.
Out of a population of 24 million inhabitants, perhaps three-quarters of a million has been slaughtered and 70 percent have been displaced, forcibly or under duress.
Nobody exactly knows who controls which part of Syria. The U.S. presence gives some hope for a return in a limited number of regions; Turkish forces hold two important strategic places in northwest Syria. There are people who have been relocated in safe areas already, without definitely being too optimistic about a swift return of the migrants.
Now, if a very limited number of migrants out of Syria have had the opportunity to find and contact relatives relocated in safer parts of Syria, it is very understandable that they would do everything to see each other. To see and give each other some hope, in a civil war (or perhaps more accurately civilian slaughtering) that has been going on for seven years.
There have also been a number of refugees who took the trip back to Syria, to safe havens, to meet with their surviving relatives or friends. This is definitely not the beginning of a diplomatic solution, perhaps only the beginning of ending the slaughter in Syria.
The main opposition party in Turkey, through the declarations made by its leader and its candidate for the presidential elections, took a very similar stance as Germany regarding those refugees who went back to Syria to meet their relatives or friends.
This is indeed a very bad idea, to pinpoint these people (a very tiny minority) who have decided to go and visit their surviving family and friends in Ramadan which is a holy month for Muslims. Turkey has been the only country not to take any stringent measures to stop the inflow of refugees from Syria and Iraq, saving millions of people from vital threats. There are around 4 million refugees, almost exclusively Arabs and some Afghans, also Kurds, living in Turkey. Only 6 percent of these people still live in humanitarian camps, the rest have been integrated within the society and live alongside Turkish citizens without any realconflict situations.No political movement, up to now, has used the misfortune of these 4 million people as a political argument. This is one of the real issues Turkish society can be justifiably proud of.
A number of studies have been carried out among the migrants by extremely proficient researchers and academicians, including professors Emre Erdoğan, Pınar Uyan Semerci and Ayhan Kaya. It appears that a very large majority of the migrants do not see any real perspective of going back. Three out of four refugees would like to remain in Turkey and see a future within the Turkish republic.To cut short fascistic and xenophobic threats, Turkish society, including all political forces, should examine and try to solve the integration problems of these migrants. They are, in their immense majority, grateful to Turkey for the hospitability shown.
What is necessary, especially for opposition forces claiming to increase and better democratic rights and freedoms in Turkey, is to devise the possibility to understand the refugees, instead of spreading gasoline over a burning fire, by asking some Syrians who visited safe havens in Syria to go back home definitely. Maybe such demands will find an accommodating ear among parts of the population. Nevertheless, once such xenophobic rhetoric is ignited, it quickly gets out of hand and creates immense problems within society.
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