Turkish views on immigration have been steadily on the decline since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011, which has seen at least 1.8 million Syrians flee violence and enter their country.
This is among the findings of a new BuzzFeed News/Ipsos poll of 23 nations on immigration views, which was conducted online over a two-week period about two months before Turkey's current surge in involvement in Syria.
The data collected in Turkey — where 500 individuals were surveyed — falls below the threshold of internet penetration for polling firm Ipsos to consider it a truly national sample. But even the information gathered among what tends to be a more urban, highly educated portion of the population shows a surge in anti-immigrant sentiment in the country.
Here's what we found.
1. Only 2% of Turkey's population now actually sees immigration as a positive thing.
Ipsos has been collecting data on immigration views in various countries for the last four years. The results from the most recent round of polling mark an all-time low for Turkey, which was by far the country with the least favorable view of migrants among those surveyed. Even within the last year, the number of Turks supportive of immigration dropped by five percentage points, from an already marginal 7%.
2. Turkish people believe that the number of migrants entering the country has increased — and they're right.
The Syrian civil war first began in 2011, when the government of President Bashar al-Assad started cracking down on pro-democracy protests. The persecution spread and was met with armed rebellion, eventually spiraling into an all-out civil war that has drawn in all the major regional actors.
Over the course of the conflict, 4 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, with almost half of that number crossing into Turkey — the number jumped by more than a million over the last year, coinciding with the rise of ISIS. When polled on whether they believe that the number of migrants in their country has increased, 97% said "yes", making them among the most accurate respondents in the poll.
3. The Turkish men surveyed were more likely than the women to accept the idea of highly skilled workers being preferable to unskilled immigrants entering the country.
4. Turkish citizens have become more and more convinced since the Syrian civil war started that immigrants are bad for the economy and have put too much pressure on public services.
The large number of refugees in Turkey's east has placed a serious strain on the country's finances. One opposition party claims that over the past four years, Erdogān's government has spent $5.5 billion on Syrian refugees. (It's worth noting that while the high cost estimate was published in a scolding tone, the opposition wasn't very forthcoming about what should have been done differently.)
The result has been that the number of Turkish citizens concerned about the effects migrants are having on the economy has crept steadily upward each year.
5. The Turkish women polled were less likely than men to think that immigrants are an enriching part of society — 20% compared to 36%.
6. Among those surveyed, the lower the income, the lower the opinion among Turkish citizens about migrants.
In most of the survey questions, there was a distinct dip in opinion towards refugees from those who had a low reported income.
Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Hayes Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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