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Turkey tightens control on refugees

The Turkish government has decided to put new plans in place which will tighten control on millions of refugees in the country.

Authorities will halt the issue of new applications for temporary protection papers in capital Ankara, and prevent unregistered Syrians from residing in the city, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday citing officials as saying.

“This measure can also be extended to other big cities where refugees are regrouped in significant numbers,” Interior Ministry Spokesman Ismail Catakli had said last week.

A source close to the matter told Xinhua that the government is “aware about the concerns in the society regarding refugees and is determined to address the issue with new measures”.

This source who spoke on the condition of anonymity insisted that “greater control should be exerted on refugee communities, especially in big cities”.

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Turkey hosts some 3.6 million refugees who have fled the civil war in Syria for over a decade.

Half a million of migrants of other nationalities have also found refuge in Turkey.

The nation is also concerned about an exodus from Afghanistan following the country’s takeover by the Taliban.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that there are some 300,000 Afghans in Turkey.

“Turkey is not Europe’s warehouse for refugees,” Erdogan said, echoing concerns in the society and also among his electoral base who see migrants as a threat to jobs.

Economic hardships, which was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, have exacerbated negative sentiments about refugees in Turkey.

Afghans are believed to be the second-largest refugee community in Turkey after Syrians.

Many of the migrants arriving via Iran are heading for Istanbul to find work or passage to another coastal city from which to embark for Europe.

In the face of a new potential migrant wave due to the instability in Afghanistan, Turkey has maximised measures on its eastern border with Iran, building a three-meter-high wall to prevent illegal entries.

“We are doing our best to make the border impassable,” Mehmet Emin Bilmez, governor of Van province, which has a long border with Iran, told state-run Anadolu agency.

Nearly half of the huge Syrian community in Turkey work informally, according to a recent study by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV).

However, despite the problems they face, 79 percent of the Syrians want to continue to stay in Turkey, reveals the survey.

In big cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, Syrians have become more visible over the years with many Syrian-run restaurants, cafes, grocery, or barbers shops, with advertisements written in Arabic.