Over 193,000 Syrians became Turkish citizens: Minister

Over 193,000 Syrians became Turkish citizens: Minister

Over 193,000 Syrians became Turkish citizens: Minister

To date, more than 193,000 Syrians have become Turkish citizens, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said, accusing Europe of overlooking the migration issue.

He noted that around 3.7 million Syrians live in Turkey under international protection and more than 700,000 Syrian children were born in the country.

“So far until December 2021, a total of 193,293 Syrians, including 84,152 children, have become Turkish citizens. This figure includes those who were granted citizenship before 2021,” Soylu told reporters in Ankara on Feb. 17.

Most of the Syrians, around 535,000, live in Istanbul, followed by the southern provinces of Gaziantep at 461,000, Hatay at 433,000, Şanlıurfa at 428,000, Adana at 255,000 and Mersin at 240,000, according to the minister.

The western province of İzmir and Ankara are also home to 149,000 and 100,000 Syrians, respectively.

Additional migrants are not allowed to settle in residential areas where Syrians make up 25 percent of the population there, the minister informed.

Following the incident in Ankara’s Altındağ district last year, some 4,500 people were transferred to other locations and 309 idle buildings were demolished there, Soylu said.

A fight broke out in August 2021 in the district between locals and Syrian refugees, in which an 18-year-old Turkish man was stabbed to death and dozens of people were detained.

Some 37,000 Syrian migrants were involved in crimes in 2020, and the corresponding figure was 50,231 last year, Soylu also said.

A survey conducted among Syrian migrants showed that 3.1 percent of them do not plan on returning to their country, the minister said.

“While 13.7 percent said they would return if the war is over and no matter what regime rules the country, 28.2 percent said they would do so only if the war is over and a regime they would support is in office. Another 4.1 percent suggested they would return to Syria even if the war continues.”

Soylu, however, noted that people are now fleeing Syria and coming to Turkey not only because of the conflict but also due to economic reasons.

The wave of migration is not likely to end soon, in fact, it has just begun, and developed nations are not doing anything but only watching, the minister said.

“They think this is a matter of securing borders. We told the European Union what needs to be done. Europe does not have a mechanism to resolve this migration issue. Turkey is not responsible for the conflict and instability in neighboring countries.”

Some 8 million potential migrants are ready to mobilize around Turkey, including 5 million Afghans in Iran, with 2 million of them at the Turkish border, and people in the different parts of Syria, according to Soylu.

In the past five years, Turkey has prevented 2.5 million people from entering the country from its southern and eastern borders and sent 306,00 people, mostly Afghans, Syrians, Pakistanis, Somalis and Bangladeshis, back to their countries, he said.