Syrian refugees: Deadline to leave Istanbul extended to October 30

 Originally the date was August 27th.  Those who do not leave the metropolis on a voluntary basis will be expelled.  The irregular will be given the opportunity to register in the other provinces of the country, with the exception of Antalya.  Students and workers with permits are exempted from the decree.

 

 


 

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Turkey has postponed to October 30 - from an orginal deadline of  August 27  -  the deadline granted to unregistered Syrian migrants living in Istanbul to leave the city;  otherwise they will be expelled. The delay was announced by the Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, pointing out that illegal immigrants will be allowed to register in any other province, with the exception of Antalya, in the south, which does not admit new entries among refugees for the future.

The governor of Istanbul had also intervened on the affair last month, when he proposed that migrants be returned to the provinces where their first registration took place by 20 August.  The number of Syrians fleeing the war and refugees in the economic and commercial capital of Turkey, a metropolis of 15 million inhabitants, has soared in recent years.

The Syrian refugee issue has been one of the themes of the recent local elections and there has been no lack of targeted attacks against the community in recent months.  Even the triumphant (anti-government) new mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has repeatedly used the slogan "This is Turkey, this is Istanbul" to attack signs of commercial activities written in Arabic.  Moreover on social networks the hashtag #SyriansGetOut has become increasingly visible.  In this context, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself disavowed the welcoming campaign "in the name of solidarity among Muslims" promoted in recent years.

According to the Turkish Ministry of Interior, students (and their families) - in addition to those who have an official job in Istanbul - are exempted from the expulsion order.  To date, the head of the Soylu department states, the number of Syrian immigrants returned to their country has reached 347 thousand.

Turkey is home to over 3.6 million Syrians, the highest number in a foreign nation, the majority of whom have fled eight years of bloody civil war that has caused more than 400,000 deaths and millions of displaced people.  Ankara recently identified some locations outside its borders, to house a possible new wave of refugees following the army's Damascus offensive against Idlib, controlled by jihadists and rebels (supported by Turkey itself).

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