Turkey’s major touristic hub bars illegal Syrian refugees from city
Salim Uzun ANTALYATurkey’s major Mediterranean hub of Antalya has barred illegal Syrian refugees from entering the city in a move that local officials have said aims to prevent a “refugee flow” to one of the country’s major tourism centers.
The local administration is now hoping to have Antalya exempted from a government decree that confers a number of rights on all Syrian refugees, including access to education and health, as well as work permits.
“We have notified our ministry that Antalya could face a significant refugee flow if this regulation is to be implemented here. We asked that Antalya be exempted from this regulation,” said Antalya Police Chief Cemil Tonbul.
Tonbul added that they were asking refugees in Antalya to leave the city in two weeks. “We won’t accept any Syrian refugee, unless they have come by legal means. For those who refuse to leave, we will either drive them out of the city or take them to the closest refugee camp,” Tonbul said.
Around 1.5 million Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in their country have taken shelter in Turkey over the last three years. Tension between Syrians and locals have escalated in recent months, particularly in southern and southeastern localities such as Adana, Gaziantep and Kahramanmaraş.
Many refugees have also sought to embark on boats from Turkey’s southern coasts in a desperate bid to reach Europe. The western districts of Antalya province are among the hotspots of human trafficking.