World’s Refugee “Problem”

Can Yucel Shares His Opinions About Refugees


Featured Photo By @suha_demirbas

Understanding Refugees
Before starting this article, I want to explain what a refugee is. Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

To understand the problem, we should understand their situation first. Let me give you an example: You are sitting in your home with your family. Everything is fine. Then a group of people come to your house and tell you that you are no longer living in your home, and they are telling you, you must leave. Just in a couple of minutes, everything you own, is taken from you. You have nowhere to go.

Some people are telling you where to go, and you have no other option other than doing it. When you go to this place, you live with other families that you don’t know. You don’t look like them. You don’t eat the same food as they do; you don’t pray like them, and you don’t even speak the same language, but you have to live with them.

No one asked them if they wanted to live with you, and no one asked you if you wanted to live with them. Of course, it’s bothersome for all families. No one can be happy under these circumstances.

But before you judge those people, no matter how much it bothers you, don’t forget that they didn’t choose that. Don’t forget that the comfort you have, they don’t have it. And the first thing that you need to do is have empathy. You could be a part of that family. No one chooses the family that they are born in.


Let’s Talk About The Numbers
Currently, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 82.4 million people forcibly displaced in the world. 48 million of them are internally displaced and 26.4 million are refugees. These numbers have nearly doubled between 2012 and 2020. Of that 82.4 million, 30 million are children, and more than 1 million children were born as refugees.

Turkey hosts the largest refugee population (3.7 million). More than 15% of the refugees are homeless and 66% of them are unemployed. These numbers show us that actually there are many more refugees than you can imagine. If we put all of the forcibly displaced people in the same country, the country would be the 3rd biggest country in Europe after Russia and Germany.

chart of refugee data


My Observations (The Real Gotham City)

As I mentioned, Turkey hosts 3.7 million refugees, but this number is recorded by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), which means that this number only shows the refugees that came to the country under control. However, especially after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, many Afghan people reached the border with Iran, and the Iranian government took those people and dropped them at the Turkish border. So we will never know the exact number.

According to some local sources, this number is between 5-7 million. That being said, more than 8% of the population in Turkey is refugees. Let’s assume that number is 3.7 million; according to the same source, just in Istanbul, there are 1.6 million refugees in the city. Istanbul’s Mayor (Ekrem Imamoglu) said “We believe that there are more than 2 million refugees in the city,” and Istanbul’s current population is 15 million.

I just came from Istanbul 3 months ago, and I remember seeing poor families collecting papers from the garbage. I read the news about how those people are working 10-12 hours just for 10 Turkish liras (around $1.1) per day every single day. It was sad and bothersome to see those people trying to survive. Whenever I tried to have some fun with my friends outside, and I saw a Syrian kid jump into a large garbage bin, hoping to find some food or something to put on for the cold nights, that destroyed my friends’ and my happiness.

I lived in Istanbul; you can close your eyes to the refugees, but you’d always know that in every corner of the city, there is at least one refugee kid trying to find something to save the day, to survive one more time. If you see them only once, you’d probably forget them, but when you see them every single day, and you realize that you have to live with it, it hits harder.

You may have never seen a refugee in your life, but it doesn’t change the fact that they exist, and they struggle every day just to survive.

I shared some examples from my observations. Who knows what other challenges they are facing? I don’t know because the media doesn’t want to see them, and to the government, they are only people that cause problems. The European nations pay Turkey to keep these refugees out of Western Europe, and this is the only reason why the Turkish government holds them.

Despite the poor policies that govern the treatment of the refugees, the European Union officials conduct meetings about human rights.

Maybe we should call it “Passport Rights” instead of “Human Rights”.



Featured Photo By @suha_demirbas