Turkey Announces ‘Voluntary’ Return of Over 500,000 Syrian Refugees

Many Syrians said their situation worsened in Turkey after Erdogan announced a plan to encourage one million Syrian refugees to return to their country, according to Asharq al-Awsat.

Turkey’s deputy Interior Minister Ismail Catakli refuted on Monday reports about the compulsory deportation of Syrian refugees after being forced to sign voluntary return forms.

He affirmed that his country seeks to provide a safe environment for their return in the areas it is clearing in northern Syria.

Catakli announced that a total of 531,326 Syrians have so far returned to the safe zones established by Ankara in northern Syria, adding that there are currently 3,611,143 Syrians in Turkey.

He affirmed that as is the situation in other countries, Turkey is also affected by migrants, noting that Turkish security services are making strenuous efforts to prevent illegal migration.

The number of complaints from Syrians residing in Turkey and human rights organizations has recently increased, citing “an escalation of forced deportations of young people, some of whom are studying in Turkish universities and others who hold temporary protection cards,” after they were forced to sign voluntary return forms.

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Many Syrians said their situation worsened in Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in early May a plan to encourage one million Syrian refugees to return to their country by building them housing and local infrastructure there.

Some said that the pressure of the Turkish opposition, in light of preparation for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, prompted Erdogan’s government to expedite the deportation of Syrians.

Turkey has rejected allegations of arbitrary detention and deportation of dozens of Syrians to their country during the past months.

The Presidency of Migration Management described a recent report by Human Rights Watch, which accused Turkish authorities of arresting and deporting Syrian refugees arbitrarily, as “scandalous and far from reality.”

It affirmed that Syrians are signing the voluntary return form in the presence of a witness and that they are directed to the way out towards their country.

It also indicated in a statement that over 500,000 Syrian refugees have returned “voluntarily” to areas in northern Syria since 2017 and accused the human rights organization of ignoring international praise for Turkey’s “exemplary” policy adopted regarding refugees.


This article was 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.


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