Turkey’s Interior Minister declared on Thursday that due to streneous efforts on behalf of his government, Turkey had significantly cut down the numbers of migrants entering the country without papers.
At a meeting of media representatives in Istanbul on Thursday (October 12), Turkey’s Interior Minsister Ali Yerlikaya stated that since the beginning of his tenure, Turkish authorities had apprehended over 112,000 migrants who were in the country without permission.
The apprehensions, he said, were carried out in the last three months and were spread over nearly 3,000 separate operations, reported the English-language version of the government-backed newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.
About 48,000 of those apprehended, continued Yerlikaya, had been repatriated to their countries of origin.
In addition, Turkish authorities said they had stopped around 4,000 suspected migrant smugglers and arrested more than 1,200 of them.
“Migration is one of the global problems of our age,” stated Yerlikaya. “Türkiye continues to struggle with this problem,” he added, using the alternative name for the country.
Meanwhile, more than 120,000 foreigners ended up leaving Turkey because either their residence permits had expired or they had fallen foul of the rules in some other way, the minister said.
According to official statistics, Turkey currently hosts more than 4.7 million migrants who are legally registered as asylum seekers or refugees.
Registered in Turkey but in limbo
But even for these people, relatively strict rules apply: Many of the Syrian refugees hosted in Turkey, for instance, are registered in a certain area of Turkey and are not allowed to move far out of that registration area to live or work.
The country’s police forces regularly pick up those who try to flout the rules, for example people who move to Istanbul in the hope of finding work there, even if they are registered in south-eastern Turkey near the border with Syria or in another part of the country.
In Istanbul, reported Hurriyet, authorities have carried out over 300 operations recently, targeting any migrant there without permission, making over 94 arrests.
Border controls ramped up
In the last four months, Yerlikaya claims his forces had stopped over 80,000 migrants from crossing Turkey’s borders without the correct papers or permissions.
He justified the tough controls claiming that those who enter the country without permission could be seeking to carry out terror attacks.
This comes after a suicide bomb attack took place in front of the Interior Ministry building in Ankara on October 1.
Migration continues up the Balkan route
The minister’s claims, however, might only provide one side of the migration story; despite tough controls, migrants are still arriving in Turkey and traveling from its borders over to Greece or on up the Balkan route.
On Friday (October 13), seven migrants were killed and 16 others injured after the vehicle they were traveling in crashed in southern Germany. According to German police, the majority of the 23 migrants on board hailed from Syria and Turkey, and most would have traveled through Turkey before eventually arriving in Germany.
Increases in the numbers of migrants traveling further up the Balkan route have also been registered in a number of countries in the last few months, including Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany.
The majority of those on the so-called Balkan route tend to initially come from Syria, Afghanistan, South Asian countries and the Middle East. Many of them cross Turkey before making their way north-west through Greece, Bulgaria and then on through countries such as Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic and into Austria or Germany.
At a recent EU migration meeting, bringing together leaders of five Mediterranean countries –Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain – it was agreed that Europe needed to renew its migration deal with Turkey, signed in 2016.
Source : Info Migrants