Over the past few days, the fees for crossing the Syrian-Turkish border illegally have almost halved and now stand at US$1,300 per person instead of US$2,300 as it was previously. The decrease is due to fewer people wishing to enter Turkey via smuggling routes.
The last month has also witnessed the cessation of Turkish border guards shooting illegal immigrants, as well as incidents of beatings for those caught at the border. By comparison, previously, two weeks did not pass without recording a case of an illegal immigrant being killed or assaulted while trying to cross the border.
Mahmoud, a pseudonym for a smuggler working in Idleb, told Syria TV that the suspension of granting temporary protection cards to Syrians (Kimlik), along with deportations, have significantly reduced the number of Syrians wanting to cross the Syrian border into Turkey.
Mahmoud pointed out that the entry of Syrians into Turkey through smuggling routes has become limited to those wishing to cross Turkey to reach European countries. Turkey is aware of this reality and has become somewhat lenient with those crossing the border.
Mahmoud claimed that the journey to cross the border has become much easier than before when several attempts to cross failed.
Increasing numbers of people wishing to reach Europe
In parallel, Turkey’s western borders are witnessing a hive of activity for human smuggling networks via the sea route to the Greek and Italian islands and through the land route to Bulgaria and Greece. The number of Syrians and other refugees in Turkey wishing to reach the European Union has increased following deportation campaigns against them in Turkey, where racist rhetoric is escalating day by day.
Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee in Turkey since 2014, told Syria TV that he had rejected several previous offers of asylum in Europe. As racist rhetoric escalated, however, Ibrahim lost the stability that he had previously enjoyed while living in Turkey. Now he is considering moving to Europe in search of a new life and stability for his family.
The number of Syrian refugees deported to Syria since the first half of 2016 has reached more than 19,000 individuals, according to the Turkish Interior Ministry. Official Turkish statements have disclosed plans to repatriate more than a million Syrian refugees.
As of May, the number of Syrians residing in Turkey under business or tourism residency permits had reached 1,414,776 people. The number of Syrians under temporary protection is 3,762,899, according to Gökçe Ok, the director of integration and communication at Turkey’s migration department.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.