ANKARA (Reuters) – A Turkish cleaner at a camp for Syrians fleeing the war was jailed for 108 years on Friday for sexually abusing boys, in a case that has highlighted the vulnerability of child refugees.
The 29-year-old man did not deny the charges, but said many employees and managers in the camps were involved, Dogan News Agency reported. He said he paid the children 2-5 lira ($0.70-$1.70) before assaulting them in the toilets.
The man, who worked as a cleaner at the Nizip Camp in Gaziantep in southeast Turkey, assaulted boys aged between 8 and 12 for at least three months until the start of this year, Dogan and other media reported.
He was convicted of abusing eight Syrian boys whose families had filed complaints, the local bar association said. Local media said the families of other victims had kept quiet out of fear of deportation.
The case has caused widespread outrage in Turkey, which prides itself on its humanitarian response to the Syrian civil war, sheltering 2.7 million refugees. The camp, home to about 14,000 people, was visited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in April.
Around a tenth of the Syrian refugees in Turkey live in camps run by the government’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority which said last month it was taking all necessary measures in light of the case.