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Syrian Refugees Fled to Turkey with Eyes Set on Europe

Syrian Refugees Fled to Turkey with Eyes Set on Europe

Monday, 20 August, 2018 - 11:45
Dumiz camp for displaced Syrians in northern Iraq, Asharq Al-Awsat
Istanbul – Kamal Sheikho
The recent Russian initiative on having over a million and a half Syrian refugees ‘voluntarily’ returned to Syria did not manage to wave down ambitions of Syrians hoping to one day travel to Western countries, namely Europe.

With the Syria crisis stretching out for days-on-end, most displaced Syrians who sought asylum in Turkey’s Istanbul say they prefer traveling to Europe to escape the plights of war. More so, Turkey has become a transit for Syrian refugees seeking to cross over to Europe.

Sultan, 27, arrived in Istanbul five years ago and says he has been working day and night to save up enough money to cover for costs of getting trafficked into Europe.

He is one of thousands of Syrians waiting to leave Turkey for its neighboring Greece.

Sultan says his life has come to a perpetual halt after being chased out of his hometown by ISIS terrorists in 2013, back when he was a third-year university student majoring in biology.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he admitted having no intention whatsoever of returning to Syria and was determined to travel abroad.

“My country, torn by war, is divided between local, regional and international military bodies,” he explains.

Turkey has repeatedly declared its intention to launch a military operation in the northeastern Aleppo city of Manbij, Sultan’s hometown, against the Kurdish People's Protection Units YPG.

It is worth noting that YPG militias announced withdrawing all forces from Manbij back in mid-July, but Ankara accuses it of having links with the Turkish-banned Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK and will pursue military action accordingly.

Today, Sultan works as a tailor at an Istanbul textile factory. He says he gets paid just enough to survive living in such an expensive city.

When speaking of his desire to leave Turkey, Sultan says that Istanbul “is only a temporary stop,” and that he will be moving to a more “stable and safe place” where he will be able to continue his studies.

Like Sultan, many Syrian refugees have fled the conflict, which killed nearly half a million people in Syria.

Recent data show that the Syrian civil war is responsible for uprooting some 11 million people, whether they are currently staying at internally displaced camps or abroad.

According to estimates published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 5.6 million Syrians have sought refuge abroad, mainly in regional neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.

Turkey has become a prime destination for displaced Syrians, with a dashing 3.5 million refugees as of June 2018. Istanbul is home to one of the largest Syrian refugee communities standing at 537,829.

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