Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Says Country Spent $7.6 Billion Caring For Syrian Refugees

| by Meg O'Connor
Refugee campRefugee camp

Turkey's deputy prime minister says that the country has spent upwards of $7.6 billion to take care of some 2.2 million Syrian refugees who have ended up in Turkey after fleeing the escalating conflicts taking place in their home country.

Turkey is currently bearing the brunt of the largest refugee crisis since World War Two, as the country hosts the largest refugee population. Turkey shares a 566 mile border with war-torn Syria, and has been widely commended for its open-door policy toward refugees.

Refugee camps equipped with access to healthcare and education were constructed by the country's capital, Ankara, since the outset of the conflict. 

Turkey had initially only expected some tens of thousands of refugees to come across the border. Experts say that around 300,000 refugees currently reside in the camps constructed for them, while a much larger portion of the refugees lead an unstable, almost-nomadic lives in Turkish towns and cities.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has suggested that nearly three percent of Turkey's population is now comprised of Syrian refugees.

The International Organization for Migration says that 473,887 Syrians and other migrants have 

journeyed across the Mediterranean this year alone.

"Our Coast Guard units have rescued 53,228 people, while 274 people have died [in Turkish waters]," Kurtulmus said during a news conference.

The heart-wrenching images of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi's lifeless body washed up on Turkish shores brought the refugee crisis into global focus. The boy, his mother, and his five-year-old brother drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean.

More than 70 people died trying to cross to Greece by sea so far in September alone. 

Kurtulmus has said that the country won't open it's borders with Greece to migrants, preventing refugees from fleeing further westward from Turkey. Though Kurtulmus has also said that, were European nations to commit to accepting more refugees trying to head west, Ankara would be willing to provide planes to fly the refugees to their new host countries.

Sources: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal

Photo credit: Asia News