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Turks’ irregular migration to Germany more than tripled since 2019

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The number of Turkish citizens caught while attempting to enter Germany illegally increased more than threefold between 2019 and 2022, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Monday, citing data from the federal police responsible for border security.

According to information provided by the police, the number of Turkish citizens caught attempting to enter Germany without a valid residence or travel document was recorded as 2,077 in 2019, rising to 9,094 last year, an increase of 338 percent.

The police noted that a total of 12,321 Turkish citizens entered Germany illegally between January and September 2023, and they anticipate this figure to reach 20,000 by the end of the year, suggesting that the number will increase tenfold compared to 2019.

The police said the number of Turkish men caught at the German border is four times higher than women, adding that half of the arrivals are between the ages of 18 and 32.

The data further show a notable increase in the number of children under the age of 14 among the arrivals in 2023. While the percentage of children under 14 among Turkish asylum seekers varied between 5 and 9 percent in 2022, this year the figure is expected to approach 25 percent.

Lawyer Dündar Kelloğlu, from a nongovernmental organization working with refugees in Germany, noted that in the past, Turkish men used to come to Germany without proper documents, usually due to perceived danger at home, and if they managed to stay, they would bring their families in behind them.

However, in recent years, this has changed, according to the lawyer, and despite the risks, a significant number of individuals are embarking on the journey with their families, sometimes including young children.

Experts are stating that they do not expect a decrease in irregular migration from Turkey in the coming period, according to DW.

Murat Erdoğan, a migration researcher, noted that during this period, some groups in Turkey are attempting to leave the country due to a perceived lack of safety, highlighting that a significant number of educated individuals are turning to irregular migration due to the inability to obtain visas for legal entry to Europe.

DW also said, citing individuals caught at the German border in recent years, that the citizens attempting to come from Turkey to Germany pay smugglers amounts ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 euros per person.

The police also told DW that Balkan countries play a significant role in irregular migration to Germany, stating that the ability of Turkish citizens to travel to Serbia without a visa is a factor contributing to the increase in irregular migration from Turkey.

Some refugees who spoke to DW had also reported traveling to Balkan countries via smugglers without a visa, and from there, entering Germany by land. Additionally, in the past year, it has been revealed that some individuals who obtained visas by paying to work in a company existing only on paper in Poland have attempted to move to and stay in Germany.

Overall, last year, the total number of irregular migrants caught while attempting to enter Germany illegally was 91,986. DW also noted that during the period between January and September of this year, the total number of irregular migrants reached 89,819.

Thousands of people had to flee Turkey in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016, following which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched a widespread crackdown on non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. These people, some of whom had to flee the country illegally by way of the Aegean Sea or Evros River land border because their passports had been canceled under state of emergency measures taken by the government, applied for asylum in Europe and other countries.

In addition to these people, many other people are trying to move abroad, mostly to Europe, the United States and Canada, for a better life and better career opportunities.

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