Preventing possible tensions between refugees and the host population has become a policy priority for countries hosting large numbers of refugees. In addition to local, national and international humanitarian actors, faith-based actors from both host and refugee communities attempt to prevent any tension, as it may disrupt public order, migrant integration and social cohesion. However, little is known about the mechanisms and strategies used by refugee-led faith-based actors to take a role in reducing tensions between host-community and refugees. This article examines refugee-organised faith-based actors’ capabilities, limits and interactions with host city actors in conflict prevention, by drawing from the case of Şanlıurfa, a Turkish border province which hosts half a million Syrian refugees. Based on ethnographic field research, including interviews and participant observation, as well as the analysis of local media outlets, the paper focuses on the engagements of faith-based actors of Syrian refugee community with the local actors of Şanlıurfa. Findings illustrate that faith-based actors are able to prevent escalation of social tensions in early stages when they coordinate and cooperate with local political and humanitarian actors. However, their effectiveness in preventing tensions in later stages remains limited and does not fully eliminate the risk of violence, as such tensions are often underpinned by socio-economic factors. Finally, the case shows that faith-based actors’ engagement in refugee-host community relations lead to small but significant contributions that come with risks and challenges.

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