Below is the story of a Syrian refugee family who have received sponsorship from Sanctuary and are seeking refugee status through the UNHCR. It outlines their experiences just trying to get recognition as refugees. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Sanctuary but give readers a good idea of how difficult it is to be a refugee driven out of your homeland.
Here is what happened after we went to Ankara to try and get refugee status.
I and my husband we went to UNHCR office in Ankara but security at the building refused to let us in. They said to us, no one can enter the office except the people that we called them and ask them to come to us! We asked him to let us talk to any Employee with a higher position just to ask question but he refuse as well. So we told him that we need to get registration number with UNHCR to complete our application to Australia. He gave us another address (which located in the other half of the city). I should mention to you, that no one can speak English! Only Turkish! So we had to ask for translation assistance from people in the street.
We went to the new address, and we recognize it from the huge number of people were standing in front of the gate and the security of the building just screaming to those people. Finally, we had a chance to ask the security man that we need registration number and we explain the reason. He told us that the registration is allowed for Iraq’s, Iranian’s and different nationalities except Syrian’s. He said also, that Syrians should go to the Turkish Authorities (Amniat building) to ask about registration. (Even at this building no one can speak any language except Turkish!)
We went to Amniat building and they gave us an answer. They told us that Syrians are visitors in Turkey and Turkish authorities didn’t allowed the UNHCR to register Syrian’s as refugees.
We can only get register within the Turkish government through camps authorities or through the Turkish organizations, and that will not take as UN registration and often it will make problems to people who seeking for a refugee visa in other countries. They said, Turkish Government goes on Media and tells the world that the Syrians Refugees in her land are not refugees! They are visitors! The Turkish authorities made this action because if they admit that the Syrian’s are refugee’s and let the UN deal with the Syrian’s upon this confess, so, Turkey will be forced to give the Syrian’s Protection and even settlement programs upon her agreement with other countries to protect and receive refugees.
Please if you can send my application to the government to save time while we will keep an eye on registration issue. Our application will take almost a year and I began to doubt that I can complete a year in Turkey while the Turkish citizens start to Protests against the presence of the Syrians in their country and even destroying Syrians properties.
I called the Geneva Office and they told me the same thing (we can’t register Syrian’s in Turkey!).
*The writer’s name has been withheld for security and privacy reasons. Photo copyright: http://www.reuters.com/