Tuesday 19 February 2019
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reliefweb - 8 days ago

Turkey: Europe Report N° 253 - Mitigating Risks for Syrian Refugee Youth in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa

Source: International Crisis Group Country: Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey
Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, half of whom are under eighteen. Despite European aid, tensions are rising as the country strains to accommodate the influx. The answer is smarter integration policies aimed particularly at meeting the needs of vulnerable youth. Principal Findings What’s new? A generation of young Syrians in Turkey is not receiving the support it needs to integrate successfully into Turkish society. Exposure to discrimination and exploitation, unaddressed psycho-social trauma, and lagging support for skill acquisition and job training further increase this group’s vulnerability. Why does it matter? The lack of support makes the substantial Syrian refugee youth population susceptible to exploitation by criminals and militant groups. Left unaddressed, this exploitation can feed tension and heighten insecurity for both Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens. What should be done? Better policies can help ensure that young Syrian refugees become productive members of society, be it in Turkey or (one day) in Syria. Ankara and outside donors should redouble efforts to keep refugee youth in school, treat their traumas, help them build durable livelihoods and protect them from predatory elements. Executive Summary Turkey has taken important steps toward integrating more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees. But the youth population – which represents at least half of that number – presents special challenges that have received insufficient attention. Syrian youth displaced to Turkey face enormous difficulties. Too many are not in school. Most are coping with anger, trauma and loss. Vast numbers are or will be in need of jobs. These factors increase young Syrian refugees’ susceptibility to exploitation by criminal networks and militant groups that view them as potential recruits. Young women and girls are at additional risk of being forced into exploitative marriages and sex work. Because the numbers of Syrian youth are so large, failure to meet the needs of this population today could feed tensions for years to come. Along with its international partners, Turkey should adopt measures to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable youth, enhance their future prospects and promote their integration into the communities where they live. Şanlıurfa, the province in south-eastern Turkey with the longest border with Syria, presents a graphic illustration. Even before the influx of Syrians, this socially conservative, ethnically diverse province of two million faced high levels of poverty, wide educational gaps and severe underemployment. Now with over 450,000 Syrians, most of them young and traumatised, Şanlıurfa is grappling ever more with insufficient jobs, inadequate school capacity, early marriages and public administration deficiencies, as well as an increase in crime. Inter-communal strains are emerging in Şanlıurfa that could lead to clashes and presage similar tensions elsewhere. The Turkish government and its international partners can lay the ground-work for a more secure future for Şanlıurfa, and Turkey as a whole, by taking steps now to better protect and integrate young Syrian refugees. Such steps would address the underlying factors that feed young Syrians’ vulnerability as well as more direct threats to them and their Turkish citizen hosts. Priority attention should focus on broadening registration of re increasing school enrolment through to graduation and raising awareness among (and offering resources to) those at risk of exploitative ma and improving access to sustainable livelihoods through training programs, voluntary relocation to areas with labour shortages, and targeted grants to support agricultural initiatives and cooperatives. In addition, Ankara could strengthen its fight against illicit networks that exploit Syrian youth and threaten Turkish citizens through more robust anti-bribery measures at borders, enhanced mechanisms for preventing jihadist and other militant indoctrination, and better access to law enforcement and safe haven for victims. Donors should also take care, as always, to ensure that their support is aligned with Turkey-wide and local development strategies. Istanbul/Brussels, 11 February 2019

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