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Unregistered Syrians who fail to leave İstanbul by Sept. 24 to face sanctions

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The Turkish Ministry of Interior has announced that sanctions will be imposed on Syrians who fail to leave İstanbul by Sept. 24 despite being registered in other cities, local media reported on Thursday, citing a written statement.

In late July the Turkish government ordered unregistered Syrian refugees to leave İstanbul by Sept. 24 in the wake of heightened scrutiny over the refugee population during Turkey’s recent elections.

The İstanbul Governor’s Office said in a statement that Syrians under temporary protection who lack registration in the city were required to return to their registered provinces, adding that exceptions would be made for refugees registered in provinces affected by devastating earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey in February, killing more than 50,000 people.

Referring to the statement in an announcement, the ministry’s Directorate of Migration Management said the period given to refugees would not be extended further.

“… Syrian foreign nationals under temporary protection who have been identified as not leaving our city after the period granted, despite not having the legal right to stay in İstanbul, will be placed in Temporary Accommodation Centers. Administrative obligations will be introduced … in accordance with Law No 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection and the Temporary Protection Regulation and the envisaged sanctions will be enforced,” the directorate said.

The Hürriyet Daily News previously reported that law enforcement would send Syrians who fail to leave İstanbul back to their registered provinces. Furthermore, government regulations indicate that individuals could face expulsion from the country if they repeatedly fail to report their whereabouts without valid reasons.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who recently won re-election, has pledged to repatriate 1 million Syrians. This commitment comes despite ongoing reports of Syrians being forcibly deported to their war-torn homeland.

Discontent over Turkey’s refugee population, particularly Syrians, emerged as a significant issue during the May elections. The opposition candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, promised to return all refugees to their countries of origin. Kılıçdaroğlu’s party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), holds the mayorship of Istanbul.

Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) will have an opportunity to reclaim İstanbul next year. Erdoğan has already expressed his desire to secure a win in Turkey’s largest city and economic hub.

Refugees in Turkey are frequently targeted by Turkish politicians, who hold them responsible for the social and economic problems in the country. The anti-Syrian rhetoric has gained momentum, especially during the May 14 elections and the May 28 presidential runoff.

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