RE-VIEWING "ARCHITECTURE IN EMERGENCY SYMPOSIUM, ISTANBUL 2016"
Refugee problems, related with having to flee from the country of origin because of the fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, have been a concern for the whole world for a long time. Displacement is even a wider problem, because this comprises the process of having to flee to different parts of the same country. At present, almost 60 million people are displaced by war and conflict worldwide. Unfortunately, this number has increased sharply because of the war in Syria. Since March 2011, which is the date when the civil war in Syria started, almost 12 million people have fled from their homes in Syria, with 5 million becoming refugees in other countries.
While many countries in the world receive an increasing number of refugees, the spatial practice related with hosting refugees on the move, in transit, and in various forms of habitation has found diverse, new and improvised forms. These forms reflect a vast landscape of negotiating spatial practice along formal regulations, informal initiatives, enforced policies and spatial exploitations.
Turkey is the country which hosts the biggest Syrian refugee population in the world. According to official records, there are approximately 2,800,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey in 2016. There are 26 camps constructed in various cities in Turkey, where basic services such as education and health are met. However, only 10% of the Syrian refugees live in these camps, and the real problem is with those “urban refugees” who live outside these camps. The biggest difficulty of refugees living outside camps is accommodation, because these people cannot find the necessary money to pay their rent. The second major difficulty is finding employment.
The legal status of the refugees is another problematic issue. Turkey has become a party to the Geneva Agreement of 1951 with geographical limitations, as a result of which Turkey can give the refugee status only to those coming from Europe. Turkey has implemented an “open door policy” since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, and has not rejected the Syrians who want to come to Turkey for a long period of time.
However, they are not accepted as refugees, but rather as asylum seekers under the heading temporary protection, which does not cover the natural rights of refugees.
As the refugee crisis is affecting the world globally, the spatial maneuvers by refugees, authorities and the public and private stakeholders need to be understood within a broader field of spatial discourse. The diverse reinterpretations of values of belonging and attachment are constantly negotiated, and architecture, planning and other related fields need to challenge both the ongoing praxis and take part in shaping the premises for the future accommodation of attachment within the socio-spatial context for a growing refugee-originated population. Because of the new, urban contextual challenges, the architectural profession has a responsibility to re-think the functions related to shelter, site and settlements in crisis responses.
With this aim in mind, several schools of architecture, related with the EAAE, are in the process of developing proposals for increasing awareness in relation to the refugee crisis, and adapting their capacity to answer the physical needs of the refugees. In this context, proposals have been developed for introducing courses at Graduate and Undergraduate levels in several Schools of Architecture in Europe.
This symposium entitled “Architecture in Emergency: Re-thinking the Refugee Crisis”, co-chaired by Prof. Dr. Neslihan Dostoğlu and Dr. Cecilie Andersson, taking place at Istanbul Kültür University in November 17-19, 2016, is another effort for evaluating this humanitarian issue. Thematic sessions will question and reshape research and practice agendas, challenges and strategies for the identification of innovative approaches from various disciplines
to respond to current refugee crisis.
I would like to thank the Organization and Scientific Committees for all their efforts, especially Assoc. Prof. Dr. Evren Burak Enginöz and Asst. Prof. Dr. Serhat Kut, the Secretariat of the Symposium, Dr. Cecilie Andersson, Rector of Bergen School of Architecture and the Co-Chair of this Symposium, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Şener Küçükdoğu, the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, and Prof. Dr. Sıddıka Semahat Demir, the Rector of İstanbul Kültür University, for their continuous support in making this event possible. Last, but not least, my thanks go to all the keynote speakers, and the participants who presented valuable papers, and to everyone who has contributed by their comments in this conference.
Prof. Dr. Neslihan Dostoğlu
Dean, Faculty of Architecture İstanbul Kültür University
Co-Chair, Architecture in Emergency Symposium