Syrian refugees in Turkey exceeds 2.5 mln as population tops 80 mln

Syrian refugees in Turkey exceeds 2.5 mln as population tops 80 mln

Bülent Sarıoğlu - ANKARA
Syrian refugees in Turkey exceeds 2.5 mln as population tops 80 mln

Syrian Refugees go about their daily lives at the refugee camp in Osmaniye on December 15, 2015. AFP Photo

The number of Syrian refugees who have sought refuge in Turkey has now exceeded 2.5 million, pushing Turkey’s total population beyond 80 million, according to figures presented to a parliamentary commission by the Directorate General of Migration Management.

The number of refugees from Syria was 2,503,426 while the number of refugees from other countries was 137,000, Director General of Migration Management Atilla Toros told a sub-commission on refugee rights on Jan. 13. 

The total number of all refugees who took shelter in these lands during the history of the Republic of Turkey, from 1923 to 1997, was 1,600,000 and this number reached 2 million in 2011, Toros said.

“While it was a transit country in the past, our country has now become a target country. There is a very serious fire. Our country is an oasis for victims who flee oppression. Asylum is a right,” he told the commission, while noting that 20 percent of Syrian refugees, around 279,000 people, have been living in camps. 

The Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) reported Turkey’s population as of Dec. 31, 2014 as 77,695,904. According to TÜİK’s projections for the end of 2015, the population would be around 78,150,000. Yet, according to what Toros told the commission, the population in Turkey, including the recorded Syrian refugees, has reached at least 80,336,000.

In the past, the number of illegal immigrants detained annually was around 50,000, while some 146,000 illegal immigrants were detained in 2015, Toros also said. 

“By itself, the number of illegal immigrants that have been captured by the [Turkish] Coast Guard was 91, 611 and the number of people who lost their lives in the Mediterranean was 3,279 for 2014 and 3,771 for 2015. The Mediterranean has unfortunately turned into a cemetery,” he elaborated.