Turkey is helping, not deporting, Syrian refugees: Presidential communications director
The Turkish government provides millions of Syrians with health care and education and a multilateral political solution is needed and demonizing Ankara won’t help, wrote Turkey’s Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun in an article he penned for Foreign Policy magazine on Aug. 24.
Responding to allegations that Turkey deports Syrian refugees, Altun said, "the Turkish government categorically rejects the allegation that Syrian refugees face deportation in Turkey. Having adopted an open-door policy toward displaced Syrians back in 2011, the country has admitted approximately 3.6 million Syrian refugees—compared with 1.4 million in Jordan and just 18,000 in the United States. Once registered with the authorities, those individuals are entitled to public services, including free health care and education. To facilitate the delivery of such services, Turkey has required all refugees to reside in the province where they initially registered.”
“The Turkish government categorically rejects the allegation that Syrian refugees face deportation in Turkey,” Altun wrote.
Touching upon the recent decision to relocate the unregistered Syrians in Istanbul, Altun added: “Because some Syrians relocated within the country without notifying the authorities, the Turkish government launched an initiative in early 2017 to update records and achieve a more balanced distribution of asylum-seekers across the country. As part of this effort, the governor of Istanbul, home to some 1 million Syrians, half of whom are registered in other provinces, announced an Aug. 20 deadline for relevant individuals to return to where they registered. This deadline has since been extended to Oct. 30.”
The deadline for Syrian refugees that were registered in Turkey’s other cities, as well as refugees who were not registered at all, to leave the country’s largest city had expired Aug. 20.
Turkey has extended the deadline for unregistered Syrian refugees in Istanbul to leave the city by two months.
Altun also criticized the international community on their approach to the Syrian refugee issue.
“Recent allegations against Turkey, a country with limited means but a firm commitment to helping Syrian refugees, reveal the international community’s failure to focus on the real issues. Instead of assigning blame to those who are not at fault, governments and human rights organizations should be promoting international cooperation to find a political solution and address the root causes of irregular migration,” he wrote.