Jul 17 2018

Turkey stops registering Syrian asylum seekers in key locations - HRW

Turkey has stopped registering Syrian asylum seeking in Istanbul, its largest city, and in nine provinces close to the Syrian border, Human Right Watch (HRW) said.

Between 2011, when the Syrian conflict stated, and May 2018, Turkey registered almost 3.6 million Syrians. But as social tensions between Turks and Syrians increase, Turkey has become less accommodating and less willing to issue Syrian refugees permits that protect them from the risk of deportation and entitle them to services such as healthcare and education, HRW said on Monday.

As numbers of unregistered Syrians in Turkey increase, refuges agencies are finding it harder to find and assist them, whilst reliable statistics indicating the numbers of Syrians denied basic services and deported are lacking, it said.

Ankara, responding to a July 13 HRW letter outlining the situation, denied it had stopped registering Syrians in any of Turkey’s provinces. 

The European Union institutions has not commented on the issue, which come soon after the European Commission praised Turkey’s treatment of refugees and promised to release 3 billion euros to support for refugees in Turkey.

Gerry Simpson, associate refugee programme director at HRW, criticised the EU’s lack of response.

“While the EU supports Turkey to deter asylum seekers from reaching Europe, it’s turning a blind eye to Turkey’s latest steps to block and discourage people fleeing Syria,” he said.

By stopping registering Syrian asylum seekers, Turkey “risks driving them underground and onward to the EU,” Simpson said.