The economic impact of Syrian refugee camps in Turkey

Syrian refugees walk along their tents at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province.

JEREMY HOBSON: In one of the largest cities in Syria today there are reports of some of the heaviest violence since the government launched a crackdown on dissent a couple of months ago. About 10,000 Syrians have fled to refugee camps in neighboring Turkey.

And the costs are piling up for the Turkish government as Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports.


ALISA ROTH: When there are no refugees, the population of Yayladaga is a little more than 6,000 people. It's a dusty border town, with one main drag which is lined with places like tea houses and small shops. You don't see a lot of refugees around. Because they're mostly closed in camps on the edge of the town. But everybody knows they're here.

Mehmet Akdai grew up in Yayladaga. A couple of weeks ago, he got a job collecting trash in one of the camps. A job he says will probably double his income.

MEHMET AKDAI: It's a filthy job, dealing with trash. It causes sickness. But at least we have a job.

Until the refugees came here, he only worked occasionally. He would drive a tractor on other people's farms. But he's still worried about the Syrians being here. He says the town already has water shortages. And he wonders if Yayladaga can handle twice as many people.

This bakery, which is on one end of town, has gotten some extra business because of the refugees. Taleb Farince is the baker. He's putting flat bread after flat bread into the oven while he talks. He says people from the surrounding villages have collected money to buy bread for the refugees. It's happened a few times. And it's been a nice little bonus for the bakery. But Farince wishes he could sell more for the camps. The Turkish Red Crescent -- which runs them -- actually trucks in most of the supplies for the camps, including bread.

TABEL FARINCE: Of course it would be better if the Red Crescent bought from us. But they don't buy from here. They don't buy anything from here, from the local merchants.

His co-worker, who's rolling out dough, interrupts him to say, "As if there were no bakers here, no groceries here." The mayor of Yayladaga says he's trying to find ways to help the refugees. that would also let the town benefit more from the camps.

But the unrest in Syria is causing other economic problems for the mayor to deal with. Yayladaga used to get a lot of its money from border traffic. And that traffic that has nearly stopped since the uprisings in Syria began this spring.

In Yayladaga, Turkey, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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