Turkey hosts over 2.7 million Syrians four years into war
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
REUTERS photoTurkey hosts over 2.7 million Syrians under its temporary protection regime but only some 270,000 stay in camps, according to figures from the Interior Ministry’s Directorate General of Migration Management. The highest number of Syrians resides in southern and southeastern towns along the Syrian border, with the striking exception of Istanbul, home to nearly 400,000 migrants.
Some 2.749 million Syrian migrants are under Turkey’s temporary protection regime, the statistics revealed, and a total of 2.48 million migrants live across the country instead of residing in one of the “accommodation centers” in 10 different provinces.
The city hosting the largest number of Syrians is the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, which is currently home to a total of 401,068 Syrians. While two other southeastern provinces, Hatay and Gaziantep, host some 300,000 migrants, the surprising runner-up is Istanbul.
The megacity has attracted the second highest number of Syrians and currently hosts a total of 394,556 migrants, even though it does not have a single migrant camp within its boundaries.
Turkey’s two other major metropolitan centers, the capital Ankara and the Aegean province of İzmir, attract a comparatively lower number of migrants with some 60,000 and 90,000, respectively.
The figures also showed that nearly half of Turkey’s Syrian population is under the age of 19, including nearly 709,000 boys and over 645,000 girls.
The ministry’s data also demonstrated how the number of Syrian migrants increased over the past for years, since the start of the war in 2012. Accordingly, there were only some 14,000 Syrian migrants in Turkey in 2012, when Turkey mentioned 100,000 refugees as the limit of its capacity.
This figure, however, increased fifteen fold in just a year to some 224,000 in 2013 and to over 1.5 million in 2014.
While the figure stood at 2.5 million by the end of 2015, it rose to over 2.7 million after only the first quarter of 2016.
Turkey recently reached a controversial migrant deal with the EU, whereby it will receive benefits including visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe “at the latest” by June. Turkey is also to receive a total of 6 billion euros in financial aid up to the end of 2018 for the 2.7 million Syrian refugees it is hosting.
In return, the March 18 accord will introduce measures to reduce Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II, including stepped-up checks by Turkey and the shipping back to Turkish territory of illegal migrants who arrive in Greece.
Under the pact with the European Union, Turkey has agreed to take back migrants who arrived in Greece in illegal crossings of the Aegean Sea after March 20.
It also agreed to allow one Syrian refugee to travel to Europe in exchange for everyone that it takes back on its soil.
The deal has caused controversy, with rights groups including Amnesty International claiming Turkey could not be considered a “safe country” for the return of refugees.