Turkey’s Interior Ministry has reportedly started to prevent migrants from settling in 16 provinces in an effort to reduce their concentration in those areas, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.
According to an article by Hande Fırat from the Hürriyet daily, Turkish authorities are poised to take steps to reduce the concentration of migrants in certain cities and prevent them from forming ghettos.
According to UNHCR Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide. The country is currently home to around 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees along with close to 320,000 persons of concern of other nationalities.
Under the Interior Ministry’s project, Turkey has devised two measures targeting areas where the migrant population has reached or exceeded 25 percent of the overall population.
First, the government has closed 16 provinces — Ankara, Antalya, Aydın, Bursa, Çanakkale, Düzce, Edirne, Hatay, İstanbul, İzmir, Kırklareli, Kocaeli, Muğla, Sakarya, Tekirdağ and Yalova — as well as 800 neighborhoods in 52 provinces to applications for settlement by migrants.
As part of the second measure, migrants in places with high migrant populations are relocated to other areas with a low migrant population on a voluntary basis.
“In some places, the Syrian population is above 25 percent. Thus, we have introduced a 25 percent limit for migrant settlement. Not only Syrian, but also migrants of other nationalities are not allowed to settle in such places,” Interior Minister Soylu had said.
The Altındağ district of Ankara had been selected a pilot area for the plan, which would later be implemented across the entire country.
Refugees in Turkey have been increasingly targeted by hate speech and hate crimes and are blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic troubles.
Turkish media including pro-government and opposition outlets fuel and exploit the flames of hatred against people who fled their countries and sought refuge in Turkey.
In August 2021 a group of locals attacked Syrian refugees, their houses, workplaces and cars in Ankara’s Altındağ district, chanting anti-Syrian and fascist slogans. Images on social media showed dozens of angry people throwing rocks at homes, smashing shops and cars and burning merchandise looted from shops believed to belong to Syrian refugees.
A recent report by the Istanbul-based Social Democracy Foundation (SODEV) has revealed that 66 percent of Turkish citizens want Syrian migrants to be sent back home.
The report was based on a telephone survey conducted on more than a thousand people and was presented to the media at a press conference on Saturday. Nearly half the respondents said they saw Syrians as a burden to the country and potentially dangerous to society.