Syria has been in a civil war for four years; in the meantime, 10.9 million refugees (approximately half of the population) have been displaced. ISIS has exploited the crisis in Syria by making itself one of the key players in the war, sweeping through Syria in 2014.
The majority of Syria’s northern border is Turkey (Syria’s neighbor to the west is Iraq, itself not exactly the picture of stability at the moment), and Turkey has subsequently dealt with a large number of Syrian refugees. But a little less than two weeks ago, Turkey closed the remaining border gates between Turkey and Syria permanently. The country cited its belief that a large-scale terrorist attack from Bashar al-Assad was imminent. Also feared were groups such as ISIS using the border to potentially threaten Turkish security.
Turkey has been the most generous of countries with respect to Syria, having taking two million refugees and given them some kind of legal status in the country. But it has been pressured by other countries who want the country to be more authoritative regarding ISIS, while the country itself is more concerned about the West’s refusal to act authoritatively against Bashir al-Assad.
Resentment has built up among the local population, who see the Syrians as opening businesses rent-free and forcing rent upwards. With the shuttering of the border, those refugees in Turkey now do not even have the option to return to Syria (if they wanted to return to a war-torn country, that is).
It is unfair to ask a single country such as Turkey to handle such a refugee crisis. While countries such as the United States have been sending aid to Turkey, the majority of aid has been to Syria itself, and the plight of countries such as Turkey and Lebanon has been neglected.
Turkey faces the same situation as many other countries around the world—a country struggling under a wave of immigrants, who are viewed somewhat suspiciously. However, these immigrants are fleeing one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent memory, and fleeing from a regime that few condone. The potential demographic change and security threat to Turkey promises to shape the country for potentially decades to come.