Somali Migrants Victims of Urban Transformation in Ankara


Somali immigrants - Photo from Google images

Somalilandsun -Immigrants and migrants from Somalia who sought shelter in Ankara’s shanty towns after living temporarily in other places will need to once again leave their homes because of urban transformation projects.

The Somali migrants in Ankara are among those who will be directly affected by urban transformation projects, which are expected to affect 25 million people throughout Turkey.

As part of these urban renewal projects, around 2 million houses are to be demolished as they are not solid enough to resist a major earthquake. Somalis who live in deserted shanty houses or in sub-basements of deserted buildings will need to look for other places to live in when the urban renewal project begins in their neighborhood.

“Somalis are worrying about what to do and when they will have to leave the places they are living in,” said Ahmet Kavcıoğlu, the administrative head (muhtar) of the Ali Ersoy neighborhood in Ankara. Noting that a single shanty house is shared by a few Somali families, Kavcıoğlu told Today’s Zaman that “these people can’t afford to live in the new apartment houses that will be built even if they give their entire salaries.”

Migrants from Somalia, who were temporarily settled in Isparta and Burdur six years ago through the coordination of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), started moving to other parts of the country, among them Ankara, as rents got higher and getting a job in the two provinces was difficult.

Kavcıoğlu, who previously spent 10 years in Libya, is protective of the Somali migrants, becoming almost like an older brother to them. As he can speak Arabic, Somali families have no problem communicating with Kavcıoğlu, whom they turn to for help whenever they are in need.

Huda, a Somali woman who had ran away from the civil war in her country, first sought shelter in Syria. She paid $300 to get to Syria but had to leave the country following the civil war. Then she was resettled in Isparta but later moved to Ankara.

In their struggles with everyday life, five Somali women share a dilapidated shanty house in the slums of Ankara. Hatice, who has been in Ankara for five months, speaks in broken Turkish. She loves Turkey. “Everybody helps a lot. Turkey is beautiful,” said Hatice, who doesn’t want to go back to either Somalia or Syria, to Today’s Zaman.

The number of Somalian migrants in the neighborhood has increased in the past six months. Noting that Somalian families live in very difficult conditions, Kavcıoğlu told Today’s Zaman, “They work for low wages [as janitors] for big apartment blocks and try to find houses for which the rent is no more than TL 100 ($50).”

People from the neighborhood also give a helping hand to the Somali migrants. The Somalis who first arrived in the neighborhood didn’t even have any beds or blankets which they later received from people of the neighborhood. “Turkish people are hospitable. There are really thoughtful people [in the neighborhood],” Kavcıoğlu said. In addition, it’s not just the people around, but also the municipality of the area who has provided food to the Somalis.

Todays Zaman