Camps help Syr­ian, Turk­ish youth so­cial­ize

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - National -

TURKEY has more than 3 mil­lion Syr­ian refugees dis­placed by the on­go­ing war. Yet ties be­tween Turks and Syr­i­ans re­main luke­warm at most as the coun­try is not ac­cus­tomed to such a huge in­flux of for­eign­ers.

Youth camps set up in the south­east may over­come this prob­lem. Or­ga­nized by the South­east­ern Ana­to­lian Project Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Direc­torate (GAP BKİ), a lo­cal state-run de­vel­op­ment agency, and United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram (UNDP), bring to­gether Syr­ian and Turk­ish youth.

The project called “Em­pow­er­ing So­cial Sta­bil­ity” of­fers a plat­form for them to ex­change ideas on life and pas­time ac­tiv­i­ties.

In Şan­lıurfa, a bor­der city with Syria, 130 univer­sity stu­dents from Turkey and Syria came to­gether for a 10-day camp on the banks of Bire­cik Dam. They played foot­ball, painted and played mu­sic to­gether.

Taim Tatari, a 22-year-old who took refuge in Gaziantep, an­other Turk­ish bor­der prov­ince, five years ago, is among the stu­dents who at­tended the camp.

“It is a real joy. I stayed in such a camp for the first time in my life. I learned how to paint here. I met Turk­ish friends. We have a great view here,” he said.

Melda Tu­ran, a 23-year-old Turk­ish stu­dent, came from the south­ern city of Hatay for the camp. She says she had mis­con­cep­tions about refugees be­fore she met them in the camp.

“The camp has a good at­mos­phere. We so­cial­ize with our new friends. Most of us don’t speak Ara­bic and some of them can’t speak Turk­ish but we still un­der­stand each other. Most peo­ple were at a camp for the first time in their lives but it has been time well spent,” she said.

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