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Around 50 people gathered at the Trade Union of Employees in Public Health and Social Services (SES) office in Ankara on the 6th of February to discuss "The Syrian Refugee Crisis and its Effect on Public Services in Turkey". On the occasion, PSI's report which carries the same name and was made possible through support from PSI's Swedish affiliate Kommunal was released.
Besides Irfan Kaygısız, the author of the report, were also invited to talk Volkan Gorendag, from Amnesty International; Piril Erçoban, from Mülteci-Der, the Association for Solidarity with Refugees; and Hazal Takmaz, a senior social worker at Human Resource Development Foundation. Gönül Erden, SES co-president, was the event's moderator.
On his opening speech, Jasper Goss, PSI's Project Coordinator, encouraged the Turkish trade unionists to stand up for the Syrian refugees - keeping alive the role historically played by syndicates fighting racism and xenophobia.
A call to action that gains real urgency as the report says that "in several cities there have been racist attacks resulting in deaths".
Photos by: Erhan Arık and Vedat Arık
During the event, alongside the discussions about the refugees' legal status in Turkey, the language barrier was considered the main obstacle faced by health workers and Syrian refugees - since in general there are no translators available in the hospitals nor in the camps.
Trade union representatives attended the meeting. Among them, KESK Co-president Lamı Ozgen; Yapı Yol Sen President Haydar Aslan; BES President Fikret Aslan; BES General Executive Committe Member Akın Şişman; Tüm Bel Sen Executive Committee Member M.Osman Seheri; Hizmet-Is experts Recep Atar, Yusra Erimli, Fatih Mehmet Bakirtas; and Genel Is expert Pınar Abdal.
The research aimed to discover the working and living conditions of Syrian refugees, their level of access to public services, problems they encountered in accessing public services and the effects of this wave of migration on public service workers. The fieldwork was done in the provinces of İzmir and Hatay during the summer of 2014. Semi structured questions were used to pursue the investigation and attempt to determine the situation.
Within the scope, interviews were conducted with Syrian refugees, trade union leaders, NGO representatives and officials of the disasters and emergencies' agency from the government.
Turkey has now become the country in the world accommodating the most refugees, with 45% of all the Syrian refugees in the region.