Turkey hosts ever-growing number of refugees

Published 22.09.2014 01:15

Turkey is now hosting 30,000 Yazidis among the 1.5 million refugees in total. While Turkey is devoting its best efforts for the betterment of these refugees, the U.N. and the international community provide very limited assistance to Turkey

The number of Yazidis fleeing from ISIS attacks and taking refuge in Turkey increases every day. The total number of Yazidi refugees has already reached 30,000. That number is expected to reach 100,000. The first group of Yazidi refugees took shelter in a bus terminal in Mardin and then they were gradually directed to an AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Authority) camp in Midyat, which was prepared to house them. There are more than 5,000 Yazidi refugees in Batman, the last place where native Yazidis continue to live in Turkey.

The town of Sinjar, where the Yazidi population in Iraq is concentrated, is of vital importance with regard to Kurdistan's integrity.
But after the fall of Mosul and Telafer, Sinjar became effectively defenseless. When Yazidipopulated Sinjar and Bashika came under attack, Yazidis retreated to Mount Sinjar and began flocking to the Turkish border. Yazidis arrive in Turkey after walking approximately 100 kilometers, suffering casualties on the road. Yazidis are subjected to slaughter or enslavement due to their religious beliefs. The United Nations has also alerted the international community on behalf of Yazidis.

These dramatic events are not a novelty for the Yazidis. Death, fear and oppression have always kept Yazidis on edge. They suffered oppression and persecution in Turkey until the 1990s. Yazidis are just one of the people in this part of the world that have had to hide their religious faith or deny their identity. Additionally, they are among the communities that have fled because of what happened in Iraq and Syria and taken refuge in Turkey.

In the Ottoman era, there had been problems concerning the Yazidis. However, they have also had many troubles in Turkey, which was established as a secular republic, ranging from getting identity cards to doing business. So, there has been a very problematic historical background between the Yazidis and Turkey up until the 1990s. Secularism has been interpreted as a top-down imposition of a uniform lifestyle in Turkey. As part of this aim to create a homogenous citizen, just like the Yazidis and Kurds, Alawites, Sunnis and non-Muslim minorities have all suffered various tribulations. Yazidis, who have been the target of oppressive and religious-based discrimination despite being a native people in Turkey, took shelter in Batman province, which many of them had to leave in the past.

After decades of politics based on sectarian, religious and ethnic discrimination, Turkey is now on the road to progress. Some of those Yazidis who have returned to Turkey in recent years are surprised at the difference between the Turkey they left behind and the one they found. Turkey opens its borders to refugees fleeing the turmoil in the neighboring countries. But the situation has passed well beyond the limit that Turkey can deal with on its own. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees is carrying out work to divert Yazidis to a third country. The increase in the number of Syrian refugees, together with tensions related to Syrians in metropolitan areas, continue to grow while Yazidis and Turkmens are also taking shelter in Turkey.

Following the rescue of 46 personnel from Turkey's Consulate in Mosul yesterday, Prime Minister Davutoglu stated that it has become impossible now for the international community to further remain deaf to the problems in Syria and Iraq. The U.N. and the international community have to step in to stop the killings in these disintegrating states and fight the emerging threats, while helping countries like Turkey that are taking care of the refugees.

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