Turkey extends deadline for Istanbul’s Syrians to return to provinces of registration

Turkey has extended to October 30 the deadline for Syrians in Istanbul to return to the province in which they registered upon arrival in the country, Turkey’s Interior Minister said on Tuesday, according to Cumhuriyet daily.

Last month, Turkish authorities gave Syrian refugees not registered in the city until August 20 to leave for their original city of registration or face forcible return.

Refugees and refugee advocates have been accusing the Turkish authorities for weeks of deporting some Syrians to their homeland involuntarily. Reuters last month interviewed five Syrians who said they had been deported to Idlib, while Human Rights Watch shared stories of four Syrians who were in Syria after being detained and forcibly returned there. BBC World News on Tuesday broadcast an interview with a Syrian man, who was deported to Idlib and managed to return Turkey by paying human smugglers $600.

“I am saying this specifically for Syrians. It is not possible for us to deport those people. It is not possible for us to deport any unregistered Syrian. Those unregistered are taken into camps, we are sending them to the provinces they wish after registering them,” Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said during an interview on Habertürk television. 

Istanbul hosts some 550,000 registered Syrians under temporary protection, but the total Syrian population living in Turkey’s financial hub has been estimated at 1 million when unregistered migrants and those registered in other provinces are taken into account.

“Our governor had told our Syrian brothers to return to the provinces they had been registered by the 20th of this month,” Soylu said. “That deadline ended and we extended it until October 30.”