Library Opens to Pave the Way for Social Cohesion

In the city of Kilis, southeast of Turkey, an old abandoned building stood in the city center unoccupied and inhabitable for years. IOM in partnership with the Kilis municipality decided to put the building to good use and convert it into a public library. Due to its proximity to the Turkey Syria border, Kilis has become home to a large number of refugees fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Syria. The increased population has seen a rise in demand for infrastrucatural development to accommodate the needs of the inhabitants of the city.  

As part of the strategy to increase social intergration between the host and refugee communities and to improve access to educational resources in the city, Kilis municipality reached out to IOM to help them establish a new public library where the students from both communities can access to educational material and socialize with each other. “The focus should be on the youth because they are the seeds for our future community,” said Abdi Bulut, Kilis mayor during the library opening ceremony. 

The old building was chosen as the location for the library due to its proximity to many schools and accessibility via public transportation. IOM’s rehabilitation of the building included, painting the walls, fixing the plumbing, equipping the library with desks, shelves, books and computers.  

The public library was officially opened on 18 August 2020 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the number of visitors are still restricted. The hope is once the physical distancing restrictions are eased, the library will be a hub for young people to come and interact with each other as well as learn about each other’s cultures. “The library will be a safe social space for everyone and the integration between the youth from both Turkish and Syrian communities is important for the growth and prosperity of this city,” explained the Mayor. 

IOM continues to work with the city of Kilis to identify areas within the city that can be rehabilitated inorder to provide more infrasture to cater to the community needs as well as to increase social cohesion.