Racism towards Syrians residing in Turkey during the earthquake disaster

BY| Yasin Aktay

While we were busy two weeks ago with one of the largest natural disasters in the history of our republic, we could not follow what was happening in Syria, which was affected as much or even more by this disaster.
The earthquake struck the governorates of Aleppo, Hama, Idlib, and all its villages and cities, in addition to 10 Turkish states. The number of victims in the Syrian governorates has reached more than 6,000, and the number is likely to rise.
What is worse is that aid does not reach these areas due to the conditions that Syria has been living in for 12 years, and even the international community does not show sufficient interest.
Although some disturbances occurred in the first moments after the earthquake in Turkey, the great interest of the local and international community was strongly present. At a time when Turkey was witnessing the catastrophe of the century, it was receiving the largest humanitarian aid campaign of the century.
Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about Syria. Because of the difference in the approach of the international system towards the opposition areas and the areas controlled by the regime, the Syrians suffered from the earthquake, and this suffering was added to the suffering they have been living for 12 years.
The Ongopinar border crossing was closed to UN aid in 2020 due to Russia’s pressure in the UN Security Council to allow all aid to enter Syria from regime-held areas. For this reason, even urgent and necessary aid could not enter until 8 days after the earthquake. In fact, this aid can only help feed the earthquake survivors because it is too late for those left under the rubble and they could have been saved through first aid.

What about the Syrian refugees residing in Turkey?

This is the situation of the Syrians in Syria, but unfortunately the Syrians in Turkey not only bear the brunt of the earthquake, but are also subjected to a disgusting racist discourse.

The earthquake hit the Syrians more than others, but there was a blow that came from the racists among us

Turkish journalist Yıldırı Uğur said that the earthquake did not differentiate between people according to their identities, but the foolish people among us do. The number of deaths in Syria as a result of the earthquake has reached 6,000 so far, and the number is subject to rise. In Turkey, Syrians constituted one out of every five people who lost their lives in the earthquake. Even in the earthquake-stricken region of Turkey, 1 in 15 Turks is Syrian. This means that the earthquake hit the old, low-quality houses, where Syrians live the most.

But the suffering of the Syrians does not end here, as they do not take away their right to be victims of earthquakes. Even when they try to get their share of the aid coming to the earthquake victims, there are those who raise allegations that all the aid goes to the Syrians. There are Syrians out in the open, there are those who died in the earthquake and those under the rubble.

Do not be deceived that Umit Özdağ defends the homeland when he goes to the earthquake zones, because those who we have not seen defending the homeland against real dangers are trying to steal heroism from those who protect people, and heroism is stolen through dehumanization.

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