World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey is now home to for at least 2.2 million Syrian refugees after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared an open door policy at the onset of the war.
However it has also long complained of being given next to no financial help to look after them, despite spending some $8 billion itself.
EU ambassador to Turkey, Hansjorg Haber, who AFP accompanied on a visit to the Osmaniye camp, said there would be a new focus with the injection of fresh funds under the Ankara-Brussels deal.
"I think we have to rely on two things. One is making staying in Turkey more attractive" for the Syrian refugees in the country.
"And the other is that we have to suppress human trafficking at the border with the help of Turkish police," he told AFP.
Only around 260,000 Syrians stay in camps near the border, with the vast majority scattered throughout the country including big cities like Istanbul.
Refugees in camps have access to basic services like education and healthcare. But many families bank on young men working outside to earn a living and many youth work as cheap labourers well below the average wages.
"We cannot survive without working outside," said 35-year-old Azimet Tusuz, carefully examining the prices of different brands of cooking oil at the supermarket.
Education is one of the main challenges. In September, the Turkish government promised to double the number of Syrian refugees at school, from the current 230,000.
"It is an ambitious one. We are working very closely with the education ministry to make sure this target is realised," Philippe Duamelle, Turkey representative for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), told AFP.
The story of Mohammad
Mohammed, 22, has lived in Turkey for four years since fleeing Syria, just months after the civil war erupted that has torn his homeland apart.
But unlike hundreds of thousands of others who this year crossed the Aegean Sea in search of better lives in Europe, he has no plans to leave.
"I have no dreams of going to Europe," Mohammed, from the Syrian coastal region of Latakia, told AFP in the Osmaniye refugee camp in southern Turkey.
"I will continue my education with God's permission and start a life here before returning to Syria once the war is over," added Mohammed, whose own relatives left and went to Belgium.
Mohammed attended Turkish language classes and was found eligible in 2013 to attend university in the southeastern city of Mardin. He says he now wants to graduate and build a new life in Turkey.
It is people like Mohammad that the EU seeks - ones that people who find the right conditions to live in Turkey rather than travelling to Europe, and want to return to Syria when the time is right.
Source: Middle East Eye/AFP
Last Mod: 04 Ocak 2016, 11:10