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Turkey world's top host for refugees; many want to stay

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By Euronews  with Hurriyet, World Bulletin, New Yorker, LA Times, The Conversation, VOA
Turkey world's top host for refugees; many want to stay

Turkey has broken the dire record of the country hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, now an estimated two million, mostly Syrian, also Iraqi, according to the UN Development Programme.

Euronews went to the Oncupinar Refugee Camp in the city of Kilis on the Syrian border, where nearly 13,000 Syrians shelter.

Most of the refugees have no immediate plans to go back to Syria. The camp includes a barber shop and a market with a variety of stalls and cafes.

A refugee from Aleppo said: “The most vulnerable people are living here. We can’t work. In Syria we lived and worked as normal people.”

Our correspondent Bora Bayraktar asked him: “Do you think of going back. Do you miss your country?”

“I don’t want to go back,” was the man’s answer.

Even though the camp promises little for their futures, most of the refugees would rather stay here than return to Syria.

We spoke to a woman who lost her husband and who cares for seven children.

She said: “For as long as Syria is unsafe, I cannot go back.”

In the nearby city of Gaziantep, in a bid to encourage dialogue and help the Syrians adapt, the newly-opened Malumat Community Centre offers free advice and Arabic, Turkish and English classes.

Gaziantep has become a provisional home for an estimated 400,000 Syrian refugees. The population growth has pushed up rents and food prices, creating tension between locals and refugees.

Local Project Officer Serhan Alemdar said: “Their main concern is uncertainty about their future. They have no long term outlook. That’s why we reach out to young people. Our main aim is supporting the 17-to-24-year-olds.”

Many of the refugees have been living in Turkey for nearly three years. With no sign that the hostilities in Syria are about to end, leaving soon looks unlikely.

Bayraktar summed up: “Most of the Syrian refugees miss their home country but have no desire to go back, given the circumstances. The market in Oncupinar Refugee Camp shows how settled they are here. It seems that Turkey will continue to live with Syrian refugees for some time to come.”

Opposition critics deplore the costs.