In the last three years, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey seeking safety from their country’s civil war. The Turkish government responded generously, creating what The New York Times has called “perfect refugee camps” which provide not only shelter but a wide range of services to the refugees. But after three years, Turkish hospitality is under strain. Only a third of the registered refugees live in the 22 camps; the rest are eking out an existence in border towns and on the margins of Turkish cities. With no end in sight to the violence in Syria and with hundreds more Syrians seeking to cross the border every week, Turkey faces enormous challenges in responding to the refugees.
On May 12, Kemal Kirişci, TUSIAD senior fellow and Turkey Project director in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, presented a new study examining the challenges that Turkey faces as close to a million Syrian refugees look more and more likely to stay on for a good while to come. Based on extensive field research, the study looks at Turkey’s strained hospitality from a humanitarian, political and international perspective. Following his presentation, comments were offered by Daryl Grisgraber, senior advocate at Refugees International; Burcu Keriman Erdoğdu from the Turkish embassy; and Joseph Livingston of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the U.S. State Department. Elizabeth Ferris, senior fellow and co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement moderated the event and offered opening remarks.