Conflict Analysis and Social Cohesion Assessment Report (April 2021) – Turkey


To analyze perceptions of conflict and assess social cohesion, among local and refugee communities, this assessment was conducted as part of a UNHCR project, within the framework of Community-Based Migration Programs, from 1 to 15 April 2021. Data for this assessment was collected through interviews. conducted by phone, face-to-face and online with focus groups with refugees and the local community at Turkish Red Crescent community centers located in 16 towns. A total of 1,920 refugees and local community members were interviewed by telephone, with a total of 195 people participating in focus group discussions. The findings of this assessment aim to inform understanding of communities’ perceptions of conflict and social cohesion, and, in turn, shape social cohesion activities and develop preventive and sustainable interventions.

When examining survey respondents’ perceptions of social cohesion, 1,198 respondents (597 refugees/601 locals) reported establishing intercultural dialogue, followed by peaceful cohabitation of communities and individuals (883,458 refugees /425 local people), elimination of the language barrier (786,473 refugees/313 inhabitants), full participation of individuals in the social, public and legal environment (645,350 refugees/295 inhabitants), establishment of a mutual empathy (617,299 refugees/318 inhabitants), access to rights and services (576,373 refugees/203 inhabitants), access to employment and means of subsistence (373,221 refugees/152 inhabitants).

When examining respondents’ perceptions of who the refugee is and where they are from, 551 respondents identified refugees as those from Syria, with 154 from Iraq, 89 from Afghanistan, 43 as those who fled the war, 37 as heimatlos, 34 those coming from Bulgaria. , 29 from Iran, 14 from Palestine, 11 from Somalia and 8 from Central Asian countries. It is understood that when asked who the refugees are, Syrians mostly come to mind as communities. The reasons why refugees are exposed to social exclusion are preconceived ideas (233, %24.81), language barrier (224, 23.86%), cultural differences (203, 21.62% ), economic reasons (refugees given priority in employment, cheap labour, etc. rumors) (163, 17.36%), rumors (66, 7.03%), media (34 , 3.62%) and other reasons (16, 1.7%). The majority of respondents believe that social preconceptions, communication barriers caused by language barriers and cultural differences affect the social exclusion faced by refugees.
When examining the data on stakeholders who can play an influential role in improving social cohesion, 1093 (556 refugees/535 inhabitants) of the respondents answered as representatives of the Turkish Red Crescent, followed by 943 (425 refugees/518 inhabitants) respondents. as local government officers, 667 (386 refugees/281 locals) as religious leaders, 667 (319 refugees/348 locals) as opinion leaders and 57 (28 refugees/29 locals) as veterans. It is understood that communities believe that Turkish Red Crescent representatives, public administrators, religious leaders and opinion leaders will be effective in improving social cohesion between communities.

Regarding the problems faced by the refugees with the local community, 290 of the respondents answered as disagreements based on refugees not speaking the local language, followed by persistent arguments and quarrels (278), social tensions based on rumors (232), conflict based on differences (224), discrimination and different treatment in the workplace (221), peer bullying at school (199), verbal attack (191), other ( 187), discrimination by neighborhood residents and neighbors (163), and unrest and tension in the neighborhood (151).

When examining refugees’ views of the local community, 441 of the respondents answered as having fairly good communication, with 268 as having difficulty communicating, 229 saying they have preconceptions against us, 220 saying I feel comfortable myself among them, 216 like they are friendly and don’t discriminate, 209 like easily make friends with them, 172 like they don’t sympathize with us, and 90 like I don’t think anything . It is understood that the majority of the refugee community has good communication with the local community.

Asked about the problems the local community has with the refugee community, 570 of the respondents answered as conflicts based on cultural differences, followed by occasional problems based on preconceived ideas (345), tensions based on rumors (272 ), tensions based on unequal conditions in workplaces and employment (260), unrest and tensions in neighborhoods (190), problems based on information disseminated by the media (161), and others (96). It is observed that the local community thinks they are culturally different from the refugees. When looking at the local community’s views on the refugee community, 350 of the respondents answered “they can stay in Turkey for a long time, they don’t hurt” followed by “we have pretty good communication” (253), “their families are excessively large” (229), “they negatively affect employment because they work for lower wages” (227), “their population growth must be controlled” (215), “they should return in their country of origin” (182), “have no idea” (155), “there should be marriages between communities (105) and “they commit a lot of crimes” (88). These results highlight that the local community does not have a negative attitude towards the refugee community, but mostly has concerns about employment and population.

Asked about the role of the Turkish Red Crescent in solving problems between local communities and refugees, 700 of the respondents answered “high” (36.46%), followed by “medium” (479, 24.95% ), “very high” (356, 18.54%), “don’t know” (191, 9.95%), “low” (99, 5.16%) and “very low” (99, 4, 56%). Accordingly, it is understood that communities believe that Turkish Red Crescent representatives play an important role in improving social cohesion.

When examining the answers given by respondents on their level of community and individual cohesion before participating in community center activities, 792 of the respondents answered “medium” (45.15%), followed by “high” (358, 20.41%), “low” (337, 19.21%), “very high” (134, 7.64%) and very low (133, 7.58%). In light of this data, community centers are believed to have positive effects on communities.

The majority of respondents find workshops (1122, 622 refugees/500 inhabitants) as the most useful activity in the community centre, followed by ‘providing correct information to the community’ (533, 236 refugees/297 inhabitants), information or training on social and cultural life (529, 266 refugees/263 locals), daytime activities (410, 223 refugees/187 locals), cohesion through sports activities (377, 192 refugees/185 locals), advisory committees ( 297, 174 refugees/123 locals), training in conflict resolution and social mediation (210,115 refugees/95 locals), role models (209,110 refugees/99 locals) and others (154,113 refugees/ 41 local people).

When reviewing suggestions for improving social cohesion, 1,267 of respondents indicated that social cohesion workshops and activities should be increased, followed by suggestions that activities addressing the language barrier should be increased ( 826), that local and refugee communities should be more included in social cohesion activities (801), that employment and entrepreneurship support should be increased (703), that information activities are on standards of social life (654), that seminars on false facts should be organized to avoid rumors and preconceived ideas (604), and that it should focus on activities that will strengthen community participation ( 467).

These data suggest that respondents believe that social cohesion activities can be effective in improving social cohesion.

With regard to the perception of the neighborhood among the local and refugee communities, it is observed that there are generally good friendly relations, the existence of perceptions that relations have improved with the refugee neighbors who speak Turkish, as well as the ideas preconceptions and failure to establish friendships, according to the responses. On the other hand, respondents’ perception of shared cultural and social practices mainly revolved around religious unity, similar cuisines, similarities in customs and traditions, shared history, kinship, etc.

This survey highlights that the perception in the local community of the conflict and tension is mainly characterized by the common preconceived ideas and false facts, tensions based on the employment of refugees with lower wages, language barriers, cultural differences and the excessive birth rate among refugees. When analyzing reactions to incidents of conflict, the majority of respondents preferred not to intervene in the incident; try first to make sense of the incident, then to solve the problem; to try to reach a compromise, to approach the issue with understanding.

It is observed that the majority of respondents answered that activities aimed at improving social cohesion should include cultural and social events, the organization of events that bring together members of the local community and refugees, language teaching, and pointed out that the social cohesion activities of the community center have positive effects on conflict resolution.

James C. Tibbs