Muğla, June 23 () - Syrian refugees who have been living outdoors in the southern resort town of Bodrum in Muğla were taken to a local schoolyard on June 22 by police and municipal police following complaints.
A group of local tradesmen delivered their petitions during separate meetings with District Gov. Mehmet Gödekmerdan and Bodrum Mayor Mehmet Kocadon on June 22, demanding action for the increased numbers of Syrian refugees staying outdoors in the touristic town.
Gödekmerdan told shopkeepers that they would take necessary measures against those sleeping or begging on the streets and send them to related locations. He also said they had contacted the municipality and NGOs over the issue.
After the meetings, Syrian refugees who were spending nights outside along the Neyzen Tevfik and Marina streets, both of which are major thoroughfares in Bodrum, were transferred to the schoolyard of the Cumhuriyet Primary School.
Kocadon told reporters after meeting with shopkeepers that they plan to take a mutual decision with the governor’s office, police, gendarmerie and NGOs over the ongoing crisis.
“The situation of these people [Syrian refugees] is saddening us all. But we should keep in mind Bodrum’s unique structure. We will help these people as much as we possibly can” Kocadon.
A group of shopkeepers said they would provide food aid during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to the refugees.
Atilla Serttaş, a shopkeeper in Bodrum, told reporters everyone wished to help the Syrian refugees who had suffered hardship.
“We call on all Bodrum residents to support [Syrian refugees] with tolerance. Doctors and medicine are needed. At the moment, we will host them here [at the schoolyard]. The state has resources to a certain extent. We, as shopkeepers, are trying to convince the [Syrian refugees] to come here [to the schoolyard] to put an end to any situation that might negatively affect the tourism industry here. We hope Bodrum residents will help,” Serttaş said.
The presence of hundreds of Syrian refugees living outdoors in Bodrum has raised tourism-related concerns, even as shopkeepers and local residents expressed their sympathy toward the Syrians.
On the Bodrum shoreline, Syrian refugees could be seen sleeping on blankets spread on the ground beside their suitcases alongside tourists out for stroll.
The population of Bodrum reaches more than a million in the summer months when tourists arrive.
The relocation of the Syrian refugees came less than a month after around 40 Syrian Turkmens living outdoors in Bodrum were taken to the Söke district of the western province of Aydın in late May, following complaints voiced by local shopkeepers and tradesmen running businesses in the tourism sector.
Turkey has long been hosting refugees fleeing the war in Syria, with a rising number that may now exceed 2 million living on Turkish soil. Syrians have come to several provinces across the country and often end up struggling to survive in outdoor conditions after failing to land a job.