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Asylum - Misinformation

Alleged Study on Syrian Refugees in Turkey Spreads Misinformation

  Sunday 17th November 2019

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Abdullah Suleymanoglu

Turkish social media profiles and pages have circulated a news story under different titles such as “Syrian Family Income Is 11,625 Turkish Lira” by Sozluk Eksi on September 12, “Bread From Hand, Water From Lake” by Haber Karabuk Biz on September 22, “Attention! The Real Danger” by Sanal Basin on November 5, and “I Will Not Go Back to Syria, My Business Is Good, Am I Stupid to Return?” by Sivil Hareket on September 22. These reports are over an alleged “doctoral thesis” in the Yavuz Sultan Selim university in Turkey, which discusses a statement of a “Syrian” man about the privileges enjoyed by Syrian refugees in Turkey; the name of the author of the alleged thesis was not mentioned.

The story has gone viral on social media, with massive engagements, likes, and shares. Rahmi Turan, a writer at the Turkish opposition-allied Sozcu Newspaper, presented the subject in a Question and Answer article between the unknown author and the alleged “Syrian.”

Q: Why did you come to Turkey?

A: Because they raided our village and told us to go to Turkey.

Q:How do you live? What is your source of income?

A: We take 1400 Turkish Lira (TL) as a rent allowance, and each member of our family, my mother, wife, brother, and I, take 1250 TL, so the total is 5,000 TL. Also, I have seven children, two of them were born in Turkey and consequently became Turkish citizens; the state gives each 895 TL, which makes 6265 TL. Therefore, our total income is 11,265 TL.

Q: What is your living expenses?

A: We have a market card, which means that we do not pay money for the market when we purchase. My telephone bill is just 5 TL and I communicate with the world.

Q: This means you have savings.

A: Yes, I save money, I bought a taxi and I work as a Taxi driver.

Q: Don’t you pay the driving license fees, taxes, and license plate fees?

A: Why would I do that? Police don’t stop me, I don’t need a driving license and my temporary license plate is free.

Q: Will you return to your homeland when the war ends?

A: I will not go back, my life conditions are good, I will not find a better place.

Teyit, a Turkish fact-checking platform, investigated these claims and found that there is no university called “Yavuz Sultan Selim;” it does not exist in the database of the Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK).

All doctoral thesis in the Turkish universities can be found on the National Theses Center in Turkey. The image below shows the search results for “Syrian.”

309 master's and doctoral thesis can be found on the website, but the alleged paper is not among them.

In addition, the financial assistance mentioned in “the Syria’s answers” does not reflect the truth; Syrians under a temporary protection regulation or an international protection in Turkey receive financial assistance from the E.U.-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), which is implemented in partnership with the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC), and Turkey's Ministry of Family and Social Policies (MoFSP); the assistance is received through a bank card provided by the TRC.

Each person from the entitled family receives 120 TL per month; one of the following criteria must be met in order to be entitled to assistance: Single females, Single parents with no other adults in the family and at least one child under 18, elderly people above 60 with no other adults (between 18 and 59) in the family, families with four or more children, and families with one or more disabled people (over 40%) evidenced by a disability health board report from an authorized state hospital.

In 2004, a law to establish the Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundations (SYDV) in Turkey's governorates was adopted, which provides financial and moral support for the people in need; only Turkish citizens are entitled to this support.

Multeciler Dernegi, a Turkish pro-refugee NGO, issued a statement on November 5, in which it debunked the lies reported in the alleged doctoral thesis.