Turkey Pushes Out Syrian Refugees to Save Tourism

AP Photo

Turkish authorities in the Muğla province kicked out 40 Syrians after business owners and tourism companies complained about the massive hordes of people in the park.

The 40 belonged to eight families who escaped the Syrian civil war after “gunmen asked them to join” the fighting. No one in the families had held a gun or had the urge to join the war, so they decided to flee and arrived “a few weeks ago hoping to find jobs.” However, the families of farmers could not find any work and ended up in the park.

“We had all been farmers and never had weapons,” explained Jaber al-Jazairi, 36. “We refused to fight those who we see as brothers. We sold whatever we had and fled our home. Some said there were farming job opportunities in Bodrum and brought us here before leaving. Now, we do not know what to do. We do not mean to hurt anybody.”

Businesses began to suffer as patrons stopped visiting, complaining of the Syrians camped out in the popular district.

“The Syrians may have been victims of some ill-intentioned people,” said Bülent Şenol, the owner of Küba Bar, a popular nightclub. “But I do not want to see them in front of my place right next to the Bodrum Port. I would like to see tourists there. The tourism industry was already in trouble here. If necessary measures are not taken, we will face serious problems.”

Authorities offered the Syrians money to leave the park. They eventually sent the refugees to the Söke district in Aydın province.

Over 847,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey since the Syrian civil war started three years ago. The West requested that the Turkish government close its borders due to terrorist threats, but authorities refused. The Turkish government pledged to support Syrian rebel groups against President Bashar al-Assad, which many believe has exacerbated the trend of Western jihadists crossing the Turkish border illegally to reach Syria. CNN even featured the secret jihadi route to Syria through Turkey as a key advantage the Islamic State holds in recruiting. In addition, there are more Turkish nationals in the Islamic State than any other non-Arab country.

But more flooded the country in 2014 due to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). In September, the Turkish government reported between 45,000 and 60,000 refugees from the Kurdish town of Kobane and surrounding villages crossed the border. The next month, Nagehan Alçi with Daily Sabah visited a camp in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Of the more than 4,300 refugees, 1,700 are children. Despite the huge number of people, there are only 600 tents.

There were also reports of Turkish men taking advantage of vulnerable Syrian women by forcing them into marriages or prostitution. These Turkish “customers” target “young widows or divorcées who have no strong social or family networks.” The women are used for sex or forced marriages, similar to how Islamic State men treat their female prisoners. Male relatives desperate for money will use their female relatives to make ends meet.


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