The educated refugees with 40 percent literacy are leaving for Europe and Germany; the uneducated rest with 7 percent literacy remains in Turkey. Five million by 2026?

   Turkey is facing a refugee disaster, according to Murat Erdoğan, the director of the Migration and Politics Center at Hacettepe University. Although the official sources speak of 2.3 to 2.5 million Syrians, he thinks 3 million is a more correct estimate if the clandestine Syrians in Turkey are included. About four fifths of them are children (55%) and women. With 125 babies born to refugees per day, the birth rate of the Syrians is at 2.0 to 2.3 percent exceeding that of the Turkish population at 1.7 percent.

    “A big majority of the Syrians are here to stay and urgent steps must be taken to integrate them into Turkish society to avoid serious problems in the future,” he said in an interview with Today's Zaman  He thinks, the numbers of Syrians in Turkey could swell to 5 million by 2026.

    Even after the conflict in Syria has ended four fifths of the refugees would remain in Turkey, he believes, based on experience made in similar cases. “Syrian men in Turkey may return to Syria, but it is highly improbable that the women” – mostly war widows -- “and their children will go back,” Erdoğan said.

    “Granting work permits for Syrians and the inclusion of Syrian children in the Turkish education system is essential for a successful integration.” Many were from rural areas and illiterate and would create unprecedented levels of trouble unless they could participate in the society. All 800,000 Syrian children needed education in Turkish since there were not enough teachers available for Arabic. 

   Although the language problem does not exist in other refugee hosting countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, the situation of the Syrians is generally worse than in Turkey. The growth rate of the refugee population is likely to be similar, and the problems of integration in the society huge. 

-- ed