Asylum seekers say they will stay despite new law
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Many people from diverse origins gather at the Turkish-Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul’s Kumkapı district every Thursday to receive clothing and food aid. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIKMany asylum seekers and illegal immigrants have said they will continue living in Turkey regardless of the consequences following a new law that limits foreigners’ stay in the country.
“I have been living as a fugitive for years. Undoubtedly, I would be unable to return to Turkey if I revealed my identity just once, and that would spell my end. I have no financial basis to hang onto life,” Ms. Asdghik, a 60-year-old immigrant from Armenia who has been living in Turkey for seven years, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Illegal immigrants and asylum seekers of all types and diverse origins gather before the Turkish-Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul’s Kumkapı district every Thursday to receive clothing and food aid provided for by the city’s Armenian community and the Turkish Red Crescent.
Among the recipients of the aid are not just Armenians, but also Georgians, Azerbaijanis, Nigerians, Iraqis, Afghans and Somalis.
Ms. Asdghik, who is among 3,000 illegal immigrants and asylum seekers provided for by the Patriarchate, said she was trying to make ends meet by working as a housemaid and with the assistance she receives. She said she had not been able to visit Armenia and see her relatives for seven years due to financial constraints.
“I live in constant fear of deportation. I have not left Turkey for 10 years. Surely I would be penalized severely and never be able to return back [if I left the country],” Ms. Seyra, a Georgian citizen who arrived in Turkey to find employment, told the Daily News.
Ms. Seyra has also expressed great concern in relation to a new law that came into effect on Feb. 1
The law allows foreign citizens entering the country with a
tourist visa to stay in Turkey for three months, after which time they will be obliged to wait for another three months abroad before re-entry.
Certain other residents of foreign origin may also be able to stay in the country by paying exorbitant insurance premiums.
“Large numbers of illegal immigrants and refugees live in this vicinity. There are people from all nations, but our troubles and concerns are identical. I hope they do not deport us destitute people from here with the new law,” Ms. Ghanımbala, a 45-year-old Azerbaijani residing in the district of Kumkapı, told the Daily News.
The patriarchate is striving to provide aid to 3,000 illegal immigrants and refugees within the limits of their means, according to Linda Süme, the head of the Patriarchate’s Clothing, Wares and Food Aid Branch.