Syrians residing in Gaziantep, Turkey, complain about living conditions and challenges facing them. These conditions were exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis and the Turkish authorities' neglect of them, calling at the same time the need to draw attention to their conditions to alleviate as much of their suffering as possible.
Activist and mother of two Malath al-Homsi was forced to leave the city of Homs, after which she and her husband settled in Gaziantep. She told North-Press that "the most important thing that we suffer from is high rent compared to our income, which does not correspond to the living conditions at all."
Homsi explained that, for example, the average rent for a house in the city is 1,000 TL, and even more in other areas, while Syrian refugees' income varies according to their profession. There is also the issue of the minimum wage, as there are people who work for 10 hours or more and only receive 2,000 Turkish lira per month, so the financial situation is very difficult for everyone in general and for Syrians in particular.
The most prominent issue increasing suffering of the Syrian refugees, whether in Gaziantep or other Turkish cities, is the issue of obtaining documents.
Al-Homsi said that "another difficulty is the delay in obtaining a temporary protection ID ,in addition to the issue of transferring it from one city to another. These matters were suspended even before the coronavirus crisis. The granting of tourist accommodations was stopped by the crisis itself. In addition, transfers of documents from one city to another or from one region to another are not as easy as expected."
Al-Homsi talked about problems facing Syrian workers in Gaziantep and said that ”a large number of Syrian workers are not registered with social insurance, because the employer prefers to lays off the workers rather than register them in insurance. The worker has to accept the imposed conditions in order to get the opportunity to work and secure the expenses of their daily life."
Amid Syrians' suffering, Turkish media claimed that Syrians had positively influenced the economy in Gaziantep, owing to the skills they possess, which has made a positive impact on Turkish society and economy.
Syrian refugee Nadim al-Shami, from the south of the capital Damascus, found in Gaziantep a place for stability and living compared to other major cities, but the shock was in the challenges he faced.
Shami told North-Press that their suffering in the city "stems from material and moral problems, not limited to economics."
Al-Shami added that “the economic situation is deteriorating, there is no appropriate expense, there is no work, and there are no parts for a decent life that we dream of.”
Al-Shami indicated that "what made the situation worse is the coronavirus crisis. People have gone without work after the shops closed. Even those who were employed lost their work, and shop owners open in the early morning and close in the evening.
The result is that profit does not exceed 200 Turkish liras, and here I am talking wholesale stores, so what about retail stores? What is going on is a very shameful thing."
Al-Shami complained about the absence of relief aid, especially during the month of Ramadan and the coronavirus crisis, and said that "many authorities asked us for a copy of our ID in order to distribute aid to us. After they photocopied our IDs, took our addresses and all the details were collected, we were shocked that only two families received aid out of approximately 100 families. When we tried to inquire about the reason, no one answered us, so the families kept surviving in the hope that one day it would be distributed."
Turkey houses about 3,700,000 Syrian refugees, according to official sources, while Gaziantep is the second city after Istanbul that houses a good number of Syrians. Sources interested in following up on the situation of Syrians in Turkey stated that, according to official statistics, the number of refugees in Gaziantep has reached 451,000, while about 600,000 Syrian refugees live in Istanbul.