Syrian refugees strive to adapt to life in Turkey  Chris McGrath/Getty Images
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Supporting Turkey’s Refugee Response

New evidence shows that a majority of Syrian refugees in Turkey are satisfied with how their host country has treated them, and would choose to stay if given the opportunity. For the European Union, this suggests a better approach to managing the region’s refugee crisis.

NEW YORK – Turkey’s crackdown on press freedom and political dissent is of great concern to many, for good reason. But as regrettable as the government’s repressive policies are, Turkey’s role in protecting people who have fled armed conflict and persecution is worthy of support. Unfortunately, opposition to Turkey’s record on civil liberties is preventing many countries from working with Turkey on refugee protection.

Turkey currently provides safe haven to more refugees than any other country in the world. More than 3.4 million live in Turkey, of which 3.3 million are Syrian. Turkey also shelters tens of thousands of refugees from other conflict-ridden countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly 5% of Turkey’s 80 million people are displaced from somewhere else.

Some Western countries have been generous in accommodating refugees from these conflicts. But, despite being poorer, Turkey has still taken in more than twice as many refugees as Sweden, Germany, and Canada, the three most accommodating Western countries. In fact, in recent years, Turkey has resettled more people fleeing violence than Europe and the United States combined.