Turkey expands capacity of repatriation centers

Turkey expands capacity of repatriation centers

Fevzi Kızılkoyun-ANKARA
Turkey expands capacity of repatriation centers

Turkey has increased the number of repatriation centers, expanding the capacity of those facilities to accommodate 20,000 people.

The capacity of the repatriation centers scattered across the European Union countries is only 16,000.

Irregular migrants who enter Turkey illegally are kept in repatriation centers, which are operated by the Interior Ministry’s Presidency of Migration Management, before being sent back to their countries.

Presently, there are 12,000 people from 80 countries in repatriation centers. Most of them are Afghans at 7,000, followed by Syrians at 1,500 and Pakistanis at 1,000.

Since the beginning of 2022, Turkey has expelled more than 21,000 irregular migrants of 113 nationalities, including 9,700 Afghans and 4,200 Pakistanis.

In 2021, security forces prevented 451,000 people from entering the country illegally, whereas the corresponding figure between January and April 14 this year is over 127,000.

“Turkey is the country which has been the most successful in the fight against irregular migration, including deportations. Turkey sends 50 percent of migrants back to their countries, whereas this rate is 18 percent in Europe,” said Ramazan Seçilmiş from the Presidency of Migration Management.

At the repatriation centers, officials first try to figure out and confirm the identity of the irregular migrants caught. Their pictures and fingerprints are also taken.

The information on those individuals is recorded in a database used by the General Directorate of Security Affairs, the General Command of Gendarmerie, the Coast Guard and the Migration Management.

Those irregular migrants who have proper travel documents are deported immediately, while others without those papers are interviewed to establish their nationality.

Then officials get in touch with the foreign consulates to inform them of their citizens at the repatriation centers.

Following the completion of this process, irregular migrants are deported within six months to one year. However, this period varies depending on the nationality of those people. For Afghans, it could take three weeks, but for Pakistanis, the process might take a month to complete. For irregular migrants from Africa, it could take up to three to four months.