A total of 2.327 million irregular migrants have been denied entry at Turkey’s eastern and southern borders, and 283,790 have been deported since 2016, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Wednesday during a migration board meeting in Ankara, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Bianet news website.
According to Soylu, 462,000 Syrians voluntarily returned home during the same period. The refugee crisis that started in 2011 did not lead to any critical incidents endangering public order or safety, he said.
Yet, hate crimes against refugees and migrants, who are blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic ills, have been escalating in recent years. Anti-refugee protesters attacked houses, shops and cars owned by Syrians in Ankara’s Altındağ district on August 11-12, following reports that a Syrian refugee stabbed two Turkish men in a fight.
Anti-migrant sentiment has also been expressed by opposition politicians. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has promised to send Syrians back home if his party comes to power.
Tanju Özcan, the mayor of Bolu province from the CHP, recently said an additional water and solid waste tax 10 times the normal tax would be imposed on refugees living in Bolu.
Soylu also provided information on walls built along Turkey’s borders with Iran and Syria. Walls, lights, sensors and night vision equipment were installed on 837 kilometers of the 911-kilometer-long Syrian border. Approximately 220 kilometers of walls were built on the Iran border, and an additional 241 kilometers will be built in the near future according to Soylu. The total length of the Turkey-Iran border is 534 kilometers.
According to Soylu there are 3.71 million refugees under temporary protection in Turkey. A total of additional 1.207 million foreign citizens legally reside in Turkey.