Turkish resort city bars unauthorized Syrian refugees: reports
The popular Turkish resort of Antalya has barred unauthorized refugees from conflict-torn Syria in a bid to prevent a possible refugee wave, local media reported on Saturday.
The city asked to be exempted from a government decree that grants all Syrian refugees a number of rights such as access to education and health care, as well as work permits.
Police chief Cemil Tonbul said the Mediterranean resort faced a “major refugee influx” following the decree and added that city authorities would ask refugees, who failed to register themselves, to leave in two weeks.
“We aren’t accepting any Syrian refugees unless they come here through legal means,” Tonbul was quoted as saying by Hurriyet newspaper.
“For those who refuse to leave, we will either expel them from the city of or send them to the nearest refugee camp.”
Antalya is the country’s primary tourist destination, attracting about seven million foreigners each year.
It has also become a hub for illegal immigrants who aspire to reach Europe.
Turkey’s maintained an “open door” policy for all those fleeing Syria’s civil war and there are now over 1.5 million Syrian refugees living in the country.
More than 280,000 Syrian refugees are living in refugee camps, mostly in the southeast, according Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
But some 912,000 are living outside of camps in cities across the country, according to AFAD, and their presence has become an increasing source of tension with local residents.
The authorities in Istanbul have also threatened to act against an influx of Syrian beggars and sent them back to camps along the border.
Most recently, some 200,000 Kurds have fled from Syria to Turkey to escape an onslaught on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria jihadists.