The Economist - Syrian refugees find Turkey more welcoming than Western Europe

RETURNING to Turkey from Germany with four children in tow was not easy for Faisl Alakrch, a 36-year-old Syrian. He had to use a people-smuggler to retrace, in reverse, the route he had taken the year before. His younger brothers have remained in Germany and are studying at university, but he wanted to work, and complains that “I could not do anything there.” Turkey, by contrast, has made it easy for him to operate. He was able to register a company and set up a café in Gaziantep, a city close to the Syrian border. He has now been invited to become a Turkish citizen. His six-year-old son speaks a mixture of German, Turkish and Arabic.

Around 3.5m Syrians live in Turkey, the largest number of refugees anywhere in the world. Turkey is not fully signed up to the 1951 Refugee Convention so, although Syrians there get access to health care, education and a small stipend, partly paid for by the European Union, they do not receive the many benefits that refugees in the EU get, such as accommodation and child benefit. Nevertheless, Turkey is proving a better refuge for many than Europe.