A new lease of life was pumped into an uneventful Turkish town of Kilis as Syrian refugees arrived there, bringing in new opportunities and reigniting its slow economy, the New York Times reported.

A Syrian refugee visit a pastry shop in Kilis, Turkey on March 10, 2017.
A Syrian refugee visit a pastry shop in Kilis, Turkey on March 10, 2017. (Reuters)

The Turkish border town of Kilis has begun to earn dividends from the arrival of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.  

According to The New York Times, the town that "slumbers amid olive and pistachio groves on a hot plain" was a nondescript place where the economy was stagnant.  

But in the past six years, ever since Syrian refugees arrived in large numbers, the town has witnessed a significant transformation. 

“After the Syrians arrived, our lives changed quite a lot,” the New York Times report quoted Kadir Peker, a local Turk, as saying. 

Peker, as per the report,  had to rebuild his minicab business after it collapsed with the onset of the war. 

“They benefited us in many ways. We are living together.”

As the war broke out in Syria 10 years ago, refugees began fleeing across the border and Kilis became one of the main entry points. 

Over the next decade, over 3.6 million Syrians settled in Turkey, and Kilis doubled in size to about 200,000 people.

Even as the influx of refugees put a heavy burden on Kilis, it also delivered a "welcome jolt of energy to the formerly sleepy city".

Example of a beacon of ethnic harmony

Six years ago, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Syrians escaping the war will be welcomed in Turkey and treated as guests, most of the Turkish citizens did not resist the change, although, in recent years, the NYT reported that "the welcome has waned" in many places as the presence of the refugees in the country "has become a bitterly contentious issue in the political arena."

Politics aside, Kilis is largely seen as an example of "ethnic harmony where Turks and Syrians speak well of each other, and men from the two groups settled a minor traffic accident in the city centre recently with smiles."

READ MORE: How Turkey has lived up to its responsibilities during the refugee crisis

Source: TRTWorld and agencies