Checkpoints erected to prevent Syrian migrants from entering İzmir
İZMİR – Doğan News Agency
DHA photoSyrian migrants who are attempting to enter İzmir in preparation for journeys to Greece are increasingly being prevented from reaching the Aegean Sea, while others already there are being gathered in a stadium.
The İzmir Governor’s Office has launched efforts together with Turkey’s Interior Ministry Migration Management Directorate and the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) to find ways in which they can reduce the numbers of Syrian migrants in the city after refugees began to flock to the city more intensively in the past month, finding space especially in the Basmane district and parks across the city.
One of the measures is to set up checkpoints on the main roads coming to İzmir, where police are stopping and searching suspicious-looking vehicles.
Police and gendarmerie forces in the Sabuncubeli area connecting İzmir and Istanbul have started to conduct checks on vehicles they suspect of carrying Syrian migrants, who aim to use İzmir as a transit point to a Greek island and thus the European Union. Officials are also intent on establishing checkpoints in Kemalpaşa and Menemen to prevent migrants from entering the city and make them return to where they came from.
İzmir Gov. Mustafa Toprak said allowing Syrian migrants to come to the city and especially to a certain region in the city created the perception that it was easy to make the illegal sea journey from İzmir.
“These people live here in inhuman conditions. We know that they are waiting for human smugglers with their luggage in hand. We will not allow this,” Toprak said, adding that they would not let the migrants who have been subjected to smuggling stay in the city.
Toprak said those who have not yet started an illegal journey but are waiting for one in İzmir will be directed to tent cities where they can have better living conditions.
Commenting on the checkpoints, Toprak said the security forces would conduct these checks without letting go of the human aspect of the issue.
“It’s a hard topic but we are determined because some people are trying to create the perception [that it is easy to smuggle people from İzmir],” Toprak said. “We are not fighting against Syrians but against human smugglers and gangs.”
Migrants transferred to stadium
For the Syrians who are already in the city, police have taken migrants who do not have anywhere to go to Atatürk Stadium in the Halkapınar neighborhood of the city. At the same time, migrants with passports who have engaged in unsuccessful attempts to cross to Greece have also been brought to the stadium. Some of these Syrians were sent by bus to cities where there are tent cities.
While Turkey hosts more than 1.8 million Syrian migrants across the country, the official number of migrants in İzmir is 68,700, but the real number is estimated to be as much as 500,000. Unable to find hotels with vacancy or rent houses, many refugees have started to occupy the city’s parks, streets and any place with some shade.
Toprak had said Aug. 5 that AFAD and the Migration Management Directorate had been working on a new bill to deport Syrian migrants who once engaged in illegal migration attempts on Turkish soil.
The Turkish General Staff also announced that 705 Syrians were caught by border troops on Aug. 11, as they were trying to illegally enter Turkey.
Meanwhile, 50 migrants, including 10 children, were saved as the boat they were in began sinking off İzmir’s Seferihisar district on Aug. 12.