General Background:

The situation of young refugees in Turkey
We are a self-organized group of young refugees from different countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Guinea, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Somalia. We all arrived in Turkey because of the situation in our countries of origin. We can not go back because we fear to face persecution and ill-treatment upon return. We all arrived in Turkey as non-accompanied minors.
When we arrived in Turkey we all applied to the UNHCR for international protection and refugee status. We were then referred to the foreigners’ police in Turkey who registered us as asylum-seeker and transferred us to a state shelter for unaccompanied minors. In Turkey we are allowed to reside in this shelter until we get 18 years old. In these shelters, the most important problem that we face is the lack of access to education, as well as to social and recreational activities. We also do not know Turkish when we arrive, which makes communication very difficult with the staff of the shelter. However, we still benefit from food and housing, which is very important. But when we reach the age of 18, we are legally obliged to leave the shelter and are eventually left to ourselves. Then we have to find a place to stay with our own means, although we do not have any money . The UNHCR and the Governorship of Istanbul grant us with a one-time special financial assistance amounting to 200 TL in total, which is of course not sufficient to rent a house. We have to rely on the solidarity of other refugee communities. Some of us have been sleeping in the street a few times until finding a somewhat solution for their housing. We also face difficulties finding work since refugees are not granted work permits by the authorities. Consequently, the majority of the refugees is being exploited and very often is not paid by their employers. Under the circumstances of their status, refugees cannot take any legal action to confront this. Furthermore, finding a job is very difficult because of the cultural barriers and the already existent high rate of unemployment in Turkey.
Young refugees face a very precarious situation after they have to leave the shelter. They have to fight very hard to cover for their basic needs, which are predominantly housing and food.
The access to healthcare is also another very problematic issue. Since we are not entitled to any social security benefits, we consequently have to pay from our pockets for any urgent ill-health condition we face – which happens quite often under the harsh living conditions we endure. The education is yet another crucial issue with regards to refugees who are to be resettled to a third country. During the lengthy asylum procedure, a young refugee can spend between 3 to 5 years without any education in Turkey. This is a huge issue for the future integration of a young person for his/her integration to the country of resettlement.
Young refugees also face a growing problem of insecurity in Turkey, due to the lack of communication between refugee communities and Turkish citizens. A lot of us have faced very violent racist attacks in the street and were violently beaten for no apparent reasons.
To face these difficulties, we decided one year ago, in January 2010, to organize ourselves in a Union of Young Refugees in Turkey. The major aim was to try to organize ourselves all together in order to face our difficulties and try to bring solutions to our problems in a collective way. We currently have 20 members. (see Annex One for the Past year’s activities of the UJRT and Annex 2 for the Status of our organization) We started our first project in June 2010. This was a 6-months project with regards to the issue of housing. We were able to rent a place for 7 persons and make this place function as the office of the UYRT.

General Background:

The situation of young refugees in Turkey

 We are a self-organized group of young refugees from different countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Guinea, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Somalia. We all arrived in Turkey because of the situation in our countries of origin. We can not go back because we fear to face persecution and ill-treatment upon return. We all arrived in Turkey as non-accompanied minors.

When we arrived in Turkey we all applied to the UNHCR for international protection and refugee status. We were then referred to the foreigners’ police in Turkey who registered us as asylum-seeker and transferred us to a state shelter for unaccompanied minors. In Turkey we are allowed to reside in this shelter until we get 18 years old. In these shelters, the most important problem that we face is the lack of access to education, as well as to social and recreational activities. We also do not know Turkish when we arrive, which makes communication very difficult with the staff of the shelter. However, we still benefit from food and housing, which is very important. But when we reach the age of 18, we are legally obliged to leave the shelter and are eventually left to ourselves. Then we have to find a place to stay with our own means, although we do not have any money . The UNHCR and the Governorship of Istanbul grant us with a one-time special financial assistance amounting to 200 TL in total, which is of course not sufficient to rent a house. We have to rely on the solidarity of other refugee communities. Some of us have been sleeping in the street a few times until finding a somewhat solution for their housing. We also face difficulties finding work since refugees are not granted work permits by the authorities. Consequently, the majority of the refugees is being exploited and very often is not paid by their employers. Under the circumstances of their status, refugees cannot take any legal action to confront this. Furthermore, finding a job is very difficult because of the cultural barriers and the already existent high rate of unemployment in Turkey.

Young refugees face a very precarious situation after they have to leave the shelter. They have to fight very hard to cover for their basic needs, which are predominantly housing and food.

The access to healthcare is also another very problematic issue. Since we are not entitled to any social security benefits, we consequently have to pay from our pockets for any urgent ill-health condition we face – which happens quite often under the harsh living conditions we endure. The education is yet another crucial issue with regards to refugees who are to be resettled to a third country. During the lengthy asylum procedure, a young refugee can spend between 3 to 5 years without any education in Turkey. This is a huge issue for the future integration of a young person for his/her integration to the country of resettlement.

Young refugees also face a growing problem of insecurity in Turkey, due to the lack of communication between refugee communities and Turkish citizens. A lot of us have faced very violent racist attacks in the street and were violently beaten for no apparent reasons.

To face these difficulties, we decided one year ago, in January 2010, to organize ourselves in a Union of Young Refugees in Turkey. The major aim was to try to organize ourselves all together in order to face our difficulties and try to bring solutions to our problems in a collective way. We currently have 20 members. (see Annex One for the Past year’s activities of the UJRT and Annex 2 for the Status of our organization) We started our first project in June 2010. This was a 6-months project with regards to the issue of housing. We were able to rent a place for 7 persons and make this place function as the office of the UYRT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *