The Çorakkapı Mosque in Basmane, a neighborhood which hosts most of the Syrians who have come to İzmir, was locked by its imam after people coming to perform their prayers expressed their negative reactions to the overcrowded mosque.
Syrians met their needs for days at the mosque by sleeping at its yard and using its restrooms, water taps and even a specific area used for funeral services to sleep on. The situation became bothersome to local mosque goers, who had problems even entering the mosque because it was too crowded.
As the number of Syrians staying both inside and outside the mosque increased day-by-day, the police removed the Syrians multiple times, only for them to return again during the night.
The mosque’s imam, Orhan Kocademir, then locked the door to bar the migrants from entering the mosque, but left the gate of the mosque’s compound open for the Syrians, particularly those with children, to meet their vital needs, such as food and water.
The Syrians who were removed from the mosque spread to empty streets and sidewalks near hotels.
Unable to find hotels with vacancy or rent houses, the number of Syrian migrants occupying İzmir’s parks, streets and anywhere shady is growing at a worrying rate.
The İzmir Governor’s Office launched efforts together with Turkey’s Interior Ministry Migration Management Directorate and the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) in early August to find ways in which they could reduce the numbers of Syrian migrants in the city.
Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees fleeing the war, with more than 1.8 million registered Syrian refugees in the country, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released on July 9.
Geographically located between war-torn Syria and Iraq in the southeast and theEuropean Union member states of Bulgaria and Greece in the northwest, Turkey has come to be a transition point for foreign migrants looking to illegally cross into the EU in an endeavor to flee the violence in Iraq and Syria, as well as those who have sought a higher standard of living.