Syrian refugees support each other even as numbers rise

News Stories, 20 June 2013

© UNHCR/E.Byun
A network of 20 camps have been erected across 10 Turkish provinces for Syrian refugees but an additional 200,000 refugees are living there outside of camps.

KILIS CITY, Turkey, 20 June (UNHCR) In Turkey's Kilis province, Syrian refugees now form a third of the population, with thousands camping in a park in the provincial centre. And the number keeps rising.

"Life in Idlib became unbearable, so we had to leave," says Fatima, who arrived weeks ago with her entire family -- including a son with a mental disability and is now living in the central park of Kilis City. "We are hopeful that they will admit us into one of the new camps that they are building."

Kilis province, in south-central Turkey on the Syrian border, is hosting an estimated 45,000 Syrian refugees from the two-year-old Syrian conflict alongside its 82,000 Turkish residents. Two large camps house nearly 14,000 refugees but an estimated 31,000 more are believed to be living elsewhere, often in difficult conditions.

They are among 200,000 Syrian refugees thought to be living in Turkey outside 20 camps spread over 10 provinces. The Turkish government has recently started registering them.

In the last three weeks, thousands of Syrian refugees have erected makeshift tents in the central park in Kilis city, waiting to enter new camps. They struggle to make ends meet, particularly to pay for rising rents and basic needs such as education and health. While food and health care is available, largely through Turkish charities, there is limited sanitation.

Despite this daily uphill struggle, Syrian refugees living in the city both in camps and outside -- have been helping each other and receiving Turkish assistance to meet their needs until the day the conflict ends and they can return home.

Abdel Hamid, whose factory in Aleppo was destroyed, is one of 87 Syrian refugees teaching at a school formed nine months ago to meet a priority of parents who arrived in Kilis.

As their children found it extremely difficult to enroll in Turkish schools because of the language barrier and different curriculum, the refugees in Kilis joined forces to establish a school using Arabic and the Syria curriculum. Today, it provides primary education for 2500 Syrian refugees.

Abdel Hamid, who had fled to the nearest Turkish province with his family after his factory was destroyed in February 2012, says the refugee community would never have been able to create the school without Turkish support.

The municipality provided space in three different buildings for classes. Other Turkish organizations gave help to teachers and school materials for the kids. Permission was also given for the International Medical Corps to conduct trauma counseling for children who had suffered horrific experiences.

"They have been very good to us," said Omar, the school director.

Though Abdel Hamid keeps busy working for the next generation of Syrians, he knows the situation is not sustainable. He, his wife and four children have been living on their little savings; he receives no teaching salary and his 23-year-old son has been unable to find work despite a degree in veterinary medicine.

With no sign of peace in Syria and the number of refugees in Kilis continuing to rise, Abdel Hamid cannot help but worry about the future of his family.

By Reem Alsalem in Kilis, Turkey

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

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.