The Turkish capital, Ankara, has been hit with a night of violence against Syrian refugees. Turkey currently hosts over four million refugees, and with more coming from Afghanistan and there are growing fears of rising social tensions.
Hundreds of people attacked the homes of Syrians Wednesday in Altindag, a suburb of Ankara. Syrian shops were also targeted, with an angry mob looting the contents.
The violence was triggered by the killing of a local Turkish youth, allegedly by Syrians.
Police tried to intervene, calling for people to return to their homes, but to no avail, as the violence continued for many hours.
Unconfirmed reports say people traveled across the city to join the attacks. No official figures have been given on injuries.
Altindag, a suburban electoral stronghold of the ruling AKP party, is home to many Syrian refugees, who had fled Syria’s civil war.
A local shop owner, who did not want to be identified, said people’s patience over the refugees is running out.
Let them go back. They are everywhere here, left-right center. He adds, I am only one of three Turkish shop owners left here.
Turkey opened its doors to millions fleeing the decade-long Syrian civil war. But political analyst Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners says there is growing discontent over the government’s refugee policy, which is likely to be exacerbated by increasing numbers of Afghans fleeing the Taliban arriving in Turkey.
"There are not only 3.6 million Syrians; there are at least two thousand Iranians, half-million Iraqis, an unknown number of Africans who came through tourists visas," Yesilada said. "Now Afghanis, along with other Central Asian nations, are coming, and they are virtually stealing jobs because they work for half the minimum wage, they don’t complain, they stage strikes, so not only in Istanbul and other industrialized cities but also many Anatolian towns, they are favored for manual jobs and agricultural jobs. This is a huge problem; all polls show regardless of political party, Turks want them to go back.”
Main opposition politician Kemal Kilicdaroglu declared last month Syrian refugees would be returned within two years of his party coming to power. Wednesday night Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said measures were being taken to control any surge in Afghan refugees.
Erdogan said, at the border with Iran or Iraq, walls on the frontiers are rising significantly right now. These walls are to prevent illegal migration to our country.
Turkey is constructing border walls and fences along its entire Iranian and Iraqi frontiers. Those barriers are predicted to be tested as observers warn of a potential exodus of Afghans if the Taliban take power.