Syrian refugees get chance to attend Turkish universities

News Stories, 28 December 2012

© UNHCR/B.Sokol
Sisters Tamara and Eilada fled their village in Syria but now have a chance to continue their studies thanks to a Turkish government decision to let qualified Syrian refugees attend universities from March.

ADIYAMAN REFUGEE CAMP, Turkey, Dec 27 (UNHCR) Syrian refugee sisters Tamara and Eilada may have lost their home and most of their possessions, but not their hope for an education and a productive future.

Tamara, 20, and Eilada, 18, fled Idlib in north Syria in September. Today, they live in a tent in a refugee camp in southern Turkey with their parents, two brothers and a sister. Despite the dramatic change in their young lives, Tamara and Eilada will still be able to pursue their university studies in Turkey.

They are among some 7,200 Syrian refugees at Adiyaman camp. Built and run by the Turkish government, it is one of 14 camps housing more than 141,000 Syrian refugees in seven provinces. UNHCR provides technical support to the government in assisting the refugees.

Under an extremely generous education program, the government will allow qualified Syrian refugees to attend Turkish universities beginning in the March semester. Ramazan Kurkud, head of education programs at Adiyaman said 70 B.A candidates and 10 M.A candidates from the camp have so far submitted applications to study at Turkish universities.

"Students can learn in seven universities across the country," Kurkud said. "They will start studying in March. The government has decided that all Syrian refugees will be waived from university fees."

For Tamara and Eilada, it is a dream come true.

Eilada had just finished high school and was preparing for university when the violence in Syria abruptly ended her studies. "It was early August, and I was in a minibus with my classmates going to Aleppo University to do the admission exam," Eilada said.

"Suddenly, we found ourselves in the middle of fire. There was shooting everywhere. I was screaming and crying. I did not know where to go or what to do. I was so scared I couldn't even stand up. I found shelter in a nearby house."

Tamara, a third-year architectural engineering student at Aleppo University, said she could no longer attend classes because of the deteriorating security in the city. She has already missed one semester of her studies.

After Tamara's and Eilada's home in Idlib was partially destroyed in September the family decided their best chance of safety was to reach the Syrian-Turkish border.

"When we left our house, we felt the sky was raining bullets," Tamara recalled. "We were moving from one shelter to another in order to protect ourselves.

"We left Idlib three months ago," she continued. "We spent 40 days on the Syrian side of the border with very little water and no electricity. The hygiene there was very poor. I got food poisoning and was sick for a week."

After their journey, Tamara and Eilada were relieved to reach Adiyaman refugee camp. "The Turkish government provided my family with two tents, mattresses, blankets and an electric heater," Eilada said. "We receive three hot meals a day. We owe the Turkish government so much for their support."

Although their lives were turned upside down, Tamara and Eilada regained a sense of normality when they learned they could apply to a Turkish university. Their goal of a university education is still within reach, their hope of a brighter future still alive.

"My dream is to study architectural engineering and to contribute in rebuilding my home country," Eilada said. "I am very happy to have the opportunity to study in peaceful conditions. I want to work for a while in Turkey before I go back home. I want to pay back some of the Turkish hospitality in hosting us."

*Names changed for protection reasons.

By Mohammed Abu Asaker in Adiyaman Camp, Gaziantep, Turkey




UNHCR country pages

Muazzez Ersoy

Muazzez Ersoy

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

The UN refugee agency is increasingly alarmed over the continuing violence in Iraq and distressed about the lack of an international humanitarian response to deal with the massive numbers of people being displaced. After an assessment mission in November last year, UNHCR officials warned that the agency was facing an even larger humanitarian crisis than it had prepared for in 2002-03. But UNHCR and other organisations are sorely lacking in funds to cope with the growing numbers of displaced.

In an effort to fill the massive gap in funding, UNHCR in January 2007 launched a US$60 million appeal to cover its protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within strife torn Iraq.

The longer the Iraq conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

Posted on 5 February 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

Responding to Syria's Tragedy Play video

Responding to Syria's Tragedy

As Syria's war heads towards a fifth year, the United Nations and partners today launched a major new humanitarian and development appeal, requesting over US$8.4 billion in funds to help nearly 18 million people in Syria and across the region in 2015
Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , SyriaPlay video

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , Syria

More than 170,000 people have fled from the town of Kobane in northern Syria to escape a fierce offensive by ISIL militants. Faysal managed to escape to Turkey before the fighting in the cauldron of conflict intensified, but he still has some family left in the besieged town on the border.
Refugees Continue Flowing into TurkeyPlay video

Refugees Continue Flowing into Turkey

Turkey has opened borders point for Syrian Kurdish civilians fleeing clashes between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces. More than 138,000 have crossed over since Friday and more are expected.