“Solidarity Rather than Charity” Reaching out Syrian Refugees in Izmir


Izmir as the third biggest city of Turkey and a transitional hub for crossing Europe attracts refugees for economic activity and migration networks.  In such a city with a high number of vulnerable refugees, civil society organisations took the initiative in providing legal assistance and humanitarian aid, because local and central governments fall short to meet the needs of refugees due to the legal and structural problems.

“Society for Building Solidarity Bridge between Peoples” which is also known as “Peoples’ Bridge Association” is the main focus of this study within the context of charity and solidarity approaches. Peoples’ Bridge Association, which defines itself as a solidarity group, was founded to build peace between different cultures, yet, following the Syrian war, their activity has concentrated on refugees. Peoples’ Bridge Association became the most active organisation soon after and started to contact local and central authorities over refugees’ problems, organised medical screening and distributed humanitarian aid.

In this study, it was discussed the activities of Peoples’ Bridge within the concepts of ‘solidarity’ and ‘charity’. This study starts with the legal status of Syrian refugees in Turkey and their access to basic services. Following Turkey’s legal framework regarding refugees, the ways of dealing with refugees adopted by civil society organisations were discussed within the context of charity and solidarity. Next, general information and numbers regarding the conditions of Syrians in Izmir were shared. Finally, the solidaristic activities and discourse of the Peoples’ Bridge Association were examined.

Keywords: Syrian Refugees; Solidarity; Civil Society Organizations; Peoples’ Bridge Association.

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