By Middle East Affairs
NTV reported Prime Minister Yildirim saying that the 30,000 Syrians who have been granted Turkish citizenship will be allowed to vote in Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
Since the start of the war, Turkey has absorbed more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees. President Tayyip Erdogan’s struck a deal with the E.U which granted Turkey more funding and kept a larger percentage of refugees inside its borders and prevented them from traveling on to Europe during the height of the evacuation crisis in 2015.
To some Syrian refugees, President Erdogan is a very favorably figure as he efforts have meant food, shelter and services for millions of refugees who rely on them for their survival. It is estimated that Turkey has spent over 30 billion dollars since the refugee crisis began.
Syrian refugees have spread out all over the country, some have settled in big metropolitan cities like Istanbul hoping to find stable employment and others have been resettled in small villages.
The United Nations estimates that Istanbul hosts more than half a million Syrian refugees. The number, however, might be higher as many are undocumented.
It is not uncommon for underage Syrian refugees to work in factories, especially clothing factories for fast fashion brands for long hours, and low pay, some children working only receive 400 lire a month or $83 dollars a month for working close to 16 hour days. They are forced to take on this work to support their families. As most are paid under the table, it is hard to monitor how many are working in such conditions or report such employers.
A few Syrian refugees have been fortunate like Syrian-born businessman Muhammed al-Sheikhouni, who changed his name to Muhammed Erdogan and is now running as a candidate in the election. He is hoping to provide representation for Syrian refugees in Turkish politics.
In a recent campaign rally in Bursa, Erdogan said: “Turkey opened its doors to Syrians and gave them a welcome and said to them – and still says – we are your brothers, this is your country.”
It is estimated that 140,000 Syrian refugees live in Bursa, alongside the 2 million Turkish residents in the city.
The majority of the Syrians that have received Turkish citizenship are highly skilled professionals such as teachers and doctors. The 30,000 that have been granted citizenship represent a very small percentage of the 3.5 million refugees that have been residing in Turkey, many for several years now.