Turkey: Thousands of migrants arrested in recent crackdown

Turkish police took action against approximately 12,000 migrants over a two-week period in July, according to Abdullah Ayaz, the head of Turkey’s migration department. Around 4,700 Afghans were affected.

This wave of arrests is part of an effort from the Turkish government to combat irregular migration and ensure that refugees with residence permits stay in the province where they originally registered.

The crackdown came after the Interior Ministry’s Migration Management Directorate released a statement, declaring that migrants are only allowed to live in their assigned province. It also warned that anyone caught breaking this rule risks losing their permit.

The stricter migration controls have included random checks of identification documents at work and in the streets. Some detainees will be relocated back to the province where they registered, but others face deportation.

Faras Hajar, a 23-year-old from Syria, is one of the refugees who was allegedly arrested and deported last month. In a WhatsApp video message to the US news agency Public Radio International, he shared his experience of being detained: “They started beating us.”

He asked: “Why are they treating us like this? We don’t understand.”

As well as increased surveillance from security forces, migrants and refugees in Turkey face growing opposition from the general public. A survey published in July by Kadir Has University, shows an increase in hostility towards Syrian refugees from 54.5 per cent of respondents in 2017 to 67.7 per cent in 2019.

Turkey hosts the largest population of refugees in the world, including a large number of Afghan refugees, a group that receives less media coverage than the 3.6 million Syrian refugees who also live there. Afghan refugees in Turkey face many challenges in their daily lives, including overcrowded living conditions, barriers to healthcare and exploitation in the workplace.

TMP – 21/08/2019

Photo credit:  franz12 / shutterstock.com

Photo caption: Istanbul, June 15, 2017: Police car blocking the road. Verification of documents