Human Rights Association (İHD) İstanbul Branch has held a press conference on the occasion of the World Refugee Day. İHD İstanbul Branch Chair Gülseren Yoleri and the members of the Commission for Refugees, Doğan Özkan and Feirt Barut participated in the conference.
Yoleri said that migrants and refugees rights violations in many areas such as education, health and the right to life.
Citing a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Yoleri said that there are 70 million displaced people and refugees in the world.
“Facing xenophobia and excessive exploitation, refugees live far from basic human rights,” she added.
Four million refugees in Turkey
There are around four million refugees in Turkey, with 3 million 614 thousand 644 of them being registered Syrians, Yoleri noted, adding that there are refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, Georgia, Myanmar, Moldova, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Central African Republic, Congo, and Somalia in the country.
On one hand, refugees are unwanted and viewed as a threat to economic, social and political life, but on the other hand, they are indispensable for the cheap labor force, subterranean economy, crime organizations, and sex work sector, Yoleri noted.
Until recent times, Turkey was a transit country for refugees, while it has become a target country with 83,800 asylum applications which made it the fifth country in the world in that respect, Yoleri said.
Different types of protection, namely international protection, temporary protection and asylum, do not ensure their access to basic human rights, she added.
“They do not protect them from unemployment, excessive exploitation, abuse, discrimination and hate attacks. They do not ensure their access to justice, education, health, and shelter.
“Because of the worry of being extradited, they cannot object to the injustice they are subjected to, to unlawful practices. They cannot make complaints. They cannot keep their cultural values alive, they cannot express themselves. Yet hundreds of refugees are sent back due to verdicts they lack legal grounds.”
Turkey has 22 removal centers
There are 22 removal centers with a capacity of 16,616 people and two temporary removal centers in Turkey, Yoleri noted.
The centers are not suitable for long-term sheltering in terms of architectural conditions and living possibilities and there are numerous complaints regarding torture, insufficient nutrition and hygiene conditions, she said.
“At the Kumkapı Removal Center in particular, riots break out almost twice a year. They try to make their voices heard by burning their beds because they don’t even have the rights possessed in a prison.
“There are many applications made to us saying that the refugees kept here have to spend their days with a quarter of a loaf of bread, a little bit of cheese and soup.”
More than 500 thousand refugees in İstanbul
The three cities with most refugees are İstanbul (504,465), Antalya (101,656) and Ankara (85,904), Yoleri noted.
“Although there are that number of refugees in Turkey, their access to some rights and possibilities is only possible with them gaining legal status. For the Syrians, the legal status is temporary protection, and for others, it is the temporary residence permit.
“Among them, the number of those who were able to get a temporary residence permit was 856,470 in 2018. In the first six months of 2009, it was 992,330.
“Out of 3,613,644 registered Syrians, the number of those reside in 13 temporary shelters in eights cities is only 109,262.
“The number of the Admission and Sheltering Centers where foreigners who made an application or have international protection status in only two.
“The capacity of the centers in Tekirdağ and Yozgat are only 150 people. However, the number of people who applied for international protection is close to one million.
“According to 2019 figures of the Ministry of National Education, only 648,592 Syrian children go to school out of 1,670,700.” (HA/VK)