Having absorbed nearly a million refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, Turkish refugee camps are pleading urgently for the development of more camps, mobile hospitals to provide quick response and decrease the pressure on region hospitals and mobile schools with volunteer teachers to educate refugee children in their native tongue.
Refugee camp classes are basic. Classes centralize on drawing and music to reduce trauma and stress, and children are taught writing and mathematics if the books are available, writes Aysegul Surt of The New York Times.
Rooden Mehdin, 20, is a refugee and a volunteer teacher at the Rojava tent camp, which holds over 1,100 people. A psychology student before the war, she stated the need for the children to have proper childhood essentials.
“These children need some sense of normalcy. When they look back, they shouldn’t say ‘I never got to be a child’. Without access to education, these children could stray, and we want to prevent that. I want them to know that they can attain a bright future, despite everything.”
Language taught in these Turkish camps is a major barrier for Kurdish refugees seeking sanctuary in a country which is only 20 percent ethnic Kurdish.
According to the United Nations Agency for Refugees, Turkey is currently home to 1.5 million Syrian refugees, with the number expected to grow to 1.7 million by next year. Figures released by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed that already $5.5 billion has been incurred in the costs of maintaining the refugees.
Turkey’s open-door policy for refugees has resulted in an influx more than expected, as stated by Metin Corabatir, the director of the Research Center on Asylum and Migration, a think tank based in Ankara, Turkey.
“Turkey at the beginning of the crisis in 2011 didn’t want much international assistance, it was confident it could handle it, but then the numbers grew. Nobody expected it would last this long. The reality now is that the Turks have to learn how to live (side by side with the refugees).”
Recent arrivals have exerted the most pressure, with around 192,417 Syrian Kurds migrating to Turkey from Kobani in September, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
The influx of Kurds has raised issues with the education system, with Turkish officials fearing the increase in Kurdish schooling and use would amplify the Kurdish vision of an independent homeland.
The accommodations of so many refugees have called for the Turkish government to begin construction of a new and upgraded camp southeast of the city. The camp will be opened mid January and provide housing to 32,500 people. It will also offer middle school to high school education, as well as a fully operational hospital.
Mr. Corabatir has stated the urgency for an education system for refugee children and bring back some normalcy to their difficult childhood.
“The impact of war and the tragedy they have witnessed is terrible.”
The Turkish government has encouraged the refugees, most of whom are Yazidis and Syrian Kurds, to return to their homelands after the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) has been eliminated.