ISTANBUL, Turkey, July 25 (UPI) -- Violent demonstrations in Turkey suggest the country is overwhelmed by the influx of over a million refugees from Syria, and feeling the strain.
Refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria and responding to Turkey's open-door policy can be seen in many Turkish cities, begging for food and sleeping in streets, with no employment prospects or opportunities. Recent demonstrations, by Turkish citizens, indicate a level of frustration with the situation.
"This is just the first signals that uncover the existing and growing social tension. So it is an alarm bell for the government to start think, much more comprehensively, about the fate of Syrian refugees," said Sinan Ulgen of Turkey's Center for Economics and Foreign Policy.
"Today there are more than 1.2 million refugees in Turkey and only 200,000 of them are in camps in southeast of Turkey. The rest are all over Turkey, in many cities including Istanbul, and they are faced with the fact that they cannot sustain anymore their livelihood economically."
Local charities say the number of Syrians in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, is twice that of the government estimate of 100,000. A few Syrians have found jobs in the Turkey's tourism sector, where knowledge of Arabic is an advantage, but the overwhelming majority of refugees have not.
Observers note humanitarian refugee camps were built, at a cost of billions of dollars, by Turkey, without international aid and with the understanding the refugee situation would only last several months.