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Syrian refugees test tolerance in Turkish cities

In many of Turkey's cities, the growing presence of Syrian refugees has stirred conflicting views on Turkey's approach to the refugee community.
Makeshift tents of Syrian refugees are seen in a wooded area in central Ankara October 5, 2013. Some 150 Syrians, mostly from villages near Syria's Aleppo, prefer to settle in the central Turkish capital instead of refugee camps run by the Turkish government. According to the families, this allows them to work as daily workers. Most of them collect plastic and paper garbage from the trash cans of buildings for recycling and sell it to make money. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: SOCIETY IMMIGRATION POLIT

The first Syrian refugees to enter Turkey started to cross the border in April 2011. Their plight was not fully known back then, but the expectations were that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime would be deposed in six months to a year, and that the refugees would all soon go back to their homes. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised them the borders would remain open for those who escaped to safety in Turkey without taking into consideration whether they had their passports or proof of identification with them. Since then it has been three years, and the number of Syrians in Turkey is now estimated to be around 1,500,000.

Although Turkey set up 22 camps for them, these were not adequate to accommodate the growing numbers of refugees. Many refugees also chose to live outside the camps. Day by day, the problems of these refugees only grow more chronic and complicated in a foreign land. There are no reliable demographics of how many of them have moved into bigger cities in the western part of the country away from the border, like Ankara and Istanbul, but what is visible is the growing number of Syrians begging on the streets near the parks, in the shopping malls and at traffic lights.

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