'Regulations must be made for refugees in the context of human rights


RIHA - Pointing out that the human rights violations that refugees are subjected to are increasing worldwide, Riha Bar Association Refugee Rights Commission member Kübra Vefa said: "The EU and the states it cooperates with must change their anti-refugee policies and make regulations in the context of human rights."

June 20 was declared World Refugee Day on the 50th anniversary of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees signed by the United Nations (UN) in 1951. Since June 20, 2001, various events have drawn attention to the situation of refugees who were victims of war or had to leave their lands for political reasons.
While the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that the number of refugees worldwide reached 120 million in April 2024, approximately 40 percent of those forcibly displaced are children. According to UNHCR data, there are 4 million 613 thousand 984 refugees-asylum seekers in Turkey. Refugees-asylum seekers who are subjected to working in the worst conditions are sometimes unable to claim their legal rights due to the fear of being sent back or having their work permits cancelled. According to the data of the Directorate of Immigration Management under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, after Istanbul and Dîlok, Riha is the city where the highest number of refugees-asylum seekers officially live, with 291 thousand 81 people. It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of refugees-asylum seekers living unregistered in the city.
Riha (Urfa-Kurdistan) Bar Association Refugee Rights Commission member Kübra Vefa, who has been working in the field of refugee-asylum seeker law for many years, spoke to Mezopotamya Agency (MA) about being an unregistered refugee in Riha, the problems refugees face when coming to Turkey, discrimination against refugees and racist policies on the occasion of June 20 World Refugee Day.
Kübra Vefa, member of the Riha Bar Association Refugee Rights Commission
Vefa noted that there are a large number of Syrian asylum seeker-refugees due to the fact that Riha has a long border with Syria, and that this is why the problems experienced by unregistered refugees-asylum seekers are high. Underlining that refugees are seen as cheap labor, Vefa said: “It is very common for children to be forced to work, to be married off, and not to be sent to school. These are problems experienced all over Turkey, but they are a little more common in Urfa. The high unregistered population triggers these negativities. It is not very easy to prevent this. These women's access to the right to health makes child birth control difficult. When unregistered people are caught, they are taken to temporary accommodation centres. They are employed in these centers indefinitely. As a result of this, there is no guarantee whether an ID will be given or not. As a result of the research, the Immigration Administration carries out the identification process if it deems it appropriate." 
Drawing attention to the human rights violations that refugees are exposed to on the way when they come to Turkey from their own countries, “Refugees who try to cross the border illegally are forced to pay high amounts to human smugglers. Not to mention the dangers of death they face on the road. The civil war still continues in Syria. Domination in different regions may be held by different organizations. They may face different problems when they pass through those regions. Especially women and children reach the border line by overcoming great difficulties. After they move to Turkey, some problems arise due to their unregistered status. They face problems both publicly and socially" Vefa said.
Emphasizing that refugees are targeted more during periods when the crises in the country deepen, Vefa continued her words as follows: “Anti-refugee sentiment, which has increased in recent days, has spread to Turkey both politically and socially. Anti-refugee sentiment is on the rise not only in Turkey but all over the world. The main reason for this is that the policies of the countries have evolved into a right-oriented anti-refugee policy. Refugees have been turned into the easiest political targeting tool. Every organization that wants to become a political power has taken a position to target refugees. With ideas far from universal human rights, very racist policies towards all refugees began to emerge. This has started to spread to society as well. As long as politicians openly spread anti-refugee propaganda through their television programs, society is affected by this."
Pointing out that the number of Syrian refugee children exposed to peer bullying in Riha is increasing day by day, Vefa added that the authorities are content to just monitor this. Emphasizing that they have recently witnessed some municipalities pursuing discriminatory policies against Syrians, “Some municipalities, especially Bolu Municipality, are fueling racism by imposing different taxes. It is up to us, human rights defenders, to prevent this" Vefa said.
Stating that it is essential for the European Union (EU) and contracted states to come together and find permanent human rights-based solutions to the problem, Vefa said: “The EU is one of the biggest pillars of this crisis. Both the registration and employment processes of refugees in Turkey are carried out through EU-funded organizations. However, due to the rise of the far right in Europe, the EU has significantly reduced the funds it provides to organizations helping refugees. There is a 70 percent restriction on financial support. Since there was no financial support, it became difficult for refugees to access health, law and education. First of all, the EU and the states it cooperates with need to change their policies and make regulations in the context of human rights. The refugee problem needs to be solved before it causes bigger problems." 
Vefa said: “Social harmony has not been achieved in Turkey. If this had happened, perhaps the society would not have opposed it so harshly. We are lacking in social harmony. If more support is provided at this point, most of the problems will be overcome. What is meant by social harmony is overcoming the language barrier, accelerating schooling, and faster registration processes. This will reduce the problems experienced. Social adaptation can occur faster, especially if children's schooling journey is accelerated. Social harmony projects can eliminate the destructive perception prevailing in society.”
MA / Ceylan Şahinli