Over 1 million Syrians have taken refugee in Turkey since the outbreak of the crisis in March 2011.
Around 30 percent of these live in 22 government-run camps near the Syrian-Turkish border (see visualization below). The rest do their best to make ends meet in communities across the country.
Such a response has come with substantial cost, and by May 2013 the Turkish government had spent around $1.5 billion (€1.6 billion) on accommodating Syrian refugees. The rising price tag has now forced the Turkish government to seek international support for an operation that, at the beginning, was guarded as a government responsibility. Now UNHCR and other groups have much greater access to the refugees than they did at the beginning, but the Turkish government still maintains a large degree of control over the camps.
Turkey has accorded temporary protection to Syrians on their territory, which precludes forced repatriation, however legally they are not refugees in Turkey but ‘guests’. Turkey is a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, however because of a geographic exception written into the original document it is only obligated to accept refugees from European nations. Thus, Syrians in Turkey do not have access to all the legal safeguards accorded to refugees elsewhere, and those seeking permanent resettlement must look to a third nation. Turkey long-maintained an open border for fleeing Syrians, although that policy has changed somewhat as the crisis has grown. For this reason, a substantial number of people are now camped on the Syrian side of the border, waiting for an opportunity to cross.
In September 2014, attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant against Kurdish towns and villages near the Turkish border caused hundreds of thousands of Kurds to flee to Turkey. See our timeline for more info.
Turkey country study
Researcher Şenay Özden used qualitative research methods, conducting open-ended interviews with Syrian activists, Free Syrian Army members and collected the life stories of displaced Syrians residing in the camps and in cities in Turkey, in May 2013.
With the influx of huge numbers of Syrians into Turkey, anti-immigrant, anti-Arab discourses have surfaced among the Turkish public.
Senay Ozden, May 2013