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Syrian refugees villainized as Turkey faces costs of coronavirus

The Turkish government is under fire for being less generous to its own needy citizens hit by the coronavirus crisis than it has been to Syrian refugees, who are said to have cost Ankara more than $40 billion.
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Whenever Turkey’s economy staggers and the public’s financial woes increase, the assistance extended to Syrian refugees becomes an issue for the cash-tight government. Ankara has had to tap the central bank’s legal reserves, a sum normally set aside for extraordinary circumstances such as war, and has spent more than $40 billion on 3.6 million Syrians since 2011.

The stimulus package that Ankara announced last month to help small and medium-sized enterprises and low-income citizens against the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is worth only 100 billion Turkish liras, or about $15 billion, less than half of its spending on the refugees.

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