Turkey’s Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu told Ahval news that more than 177,000 irregular migrants have been seized, a number that could easily be increased to 300,000 by the end of this year. Concerned authorities detained around 175,000 in 2017 and more than 265,000 last year.
Turks are becoming increasingly discontented by the escalating number of irregular migrants, mainly Syrian refugees. In a recent push, Turkey started on July 12th to apprehend irregular migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka and Algeria.
Soylu noted that Turkey is not deporting migrants but taking action against irregular migration. He said deportation was out of question for Syrian people who are under temporary protection or have residence permit and for foreigners who are granted international protection status, in a statement release on July 28th.
Syrian refugees are entangled in a very difficult situation due to the civil war taking place on their territories which started in 2011 and Turkey is considered their main route to a new life in Europe. However, in a deal with the EU, Turkey has been given funding as long as they detain refugees, preventing them continuing into Europe.
According to UN reports hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced.
Ahval news reported that Rights groups and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have pointed out that Turkish security authorities are seizing Syrians and forcing them to sign “voluntary return” forms and then compulsorily sending them back to Syria in the war zone, specially Idlib which is currently attacked by Damascus. The minister denied these allegations while saying, “We did not send any one forcibly to Idlib, as around 35,000 Syrian migrants went their willingly to spend Eid Al-Adha vacation with their families.
Turkey is currently adopting a new radar system on its coastlines on the Aegean, Black and Mediterranean seas. "Every single square centimetre will be covered [by the radar system] in our seas", Soylu said.
From 2011 to 2016, Turkey adopted an open-door policy to Syrian refugees, giving them temporary protection status. At least 3.6 million documented Syrian refugees are currently living in Turkey.
Hurriyet Daily News reported that Abdullah Ayaz, head of the migration department at the Interior Ministry, told local media that authorities are moving migrants from Istanbul and this has nothing to do with their deportation. There are Syrians living in Istanbul who are registered in different cities. “We expect them to return to the cities where they are registered,” he added.
According to Ayaz only unregistered Syrian refugees will be sent to different camps until finishing their registration, once registration takes place they will be distributed among different Turkish cities.
“Registration has closed in Istanbdul due to the huge number of Syrian refugees.” Ayaz told Hurriyet Daily News that the ongoing action in Istanbul is not for Syrians only but for all irregular migrants.
“In the past 15 days, Turkish authorities have taken action against 12,000 irregular immigrants throughout the past two weeks. Among them were 4,700 Afghans and 3,000 Pakistanis while the rest were from different nationalities,” Ayaz said.