Stranded and Trapped: The Growing Syrian Refugee Crisis in Turkey and the Disaster of International Inaction

This article discusses the Syrian refugee crisis triggered by the outbreak of conflict in Syria in March 2011, and its impact on neighbouring Turkey. Over 1.6 million Syrians are currently residing within Turkish borders, and Turkey, like other countries in the region, is beginning to reach the limits of its capacity. The article argues that Turkey’s asylum policies as well as the dismal international response to the crisis are pushing increasing numbers of Syrians to risk their lives, fleeing the country via dangerous and ever diversifying human trafficking routes. Evidence has shown that the European response of tightening border controls and trying to deter migrants from reaching its shores by cancelling of maritime rescue operations is failing. This approach only pushes traffickers to use riskier methods, likely to result in more deaths of those trying to reach the safety of a third country. The international community urgently needs to rise to its responsibilities towards the Syrians fleeing violence in their country, both in order to prevent the humanitarian crisis from further spiraling out of control, and to alleviate the pressure on Turkey and other countries in the region.

Authors: Constanze Letsch