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Interior Ministry contradicts Istanbul mayor's claim that there are more than 2 million refugees in the city

Interior Ministry contradicts Istanbul mayor's claim that there are more than 2 million refugees in the city
Interior Ministry contradicts Istanbul mayor's claim that there are more than 2 million refugees in the city


The Turkish Interior Ministry announced that around one million foreign nationals live in Istanbul, around half of whom are refugees, contradicting a recent statement by the city's mayor, who put the number of refugees in the city at more than of 2 million.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Mamolu, who was in Germany this week, criticized the European and Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) government for its policies towards refugees, saying that the refugee population at Istanbul has reached an unmanageable level.

He said there were nearly 2.5 million refugees in Istanbul, representing 17 to 18 percent of the city's official population of 16 million.

This is not correct. It is unfair for both refugees and Stanbulites, the mayor said, adding that the exact number of irregular migrants in Turkey is unknown.

However, the Interior Ministry said in a statement released on Friday, based on data from the Migration Management Authority, that there were 530,612 Syrians under temporary protection in Istanbul and 3 252 foreigners benefiting from international protection.

The ministry also reported that 553,153 foreigners with residence permits live in the city.

The total number of foreigners living in Istanbul is 1,087,017, according to the ministry, much lower than the figure announced by Mamolu.

Without making any reference to Mamolus' claim, the ministry said: “Speculative statements which are not factual should not be relied upon.”

The exact number of refugees in Turkey has long been the subject of debate, with critics of the AKP claiming that the number of refugees is far higher than official figures.

They criticize the AKP government and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoan, for pursuing an open-door policy for refugees and allowing them to enter the country without any controls.

mamolu, re-elected on March 31 and considered one of Erdoan's main political rivals, frequently criticizes Erdoan and his AKP government for triggering migration to Turkey, particularly from Syria and Iraq, by interfering in the internal affairs of the country. these countries in a way that contradicts the Turkish view of foreign relations.

Turkey and the EU signed a declaration of cooperation in March 2016, aimed at ending irregular migration from Turkey to the Greek islands. Under the agreement, migrants arriving irregularly could be sent back to Türkiye. In return, for every Syrian returned, an EU member state would resettle a Syrian refugee from Turkey. Turkey was also promised 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) for refugee aid and the prospect of visa-free travel to Europe for its citizens.

Critics say the deal has led to a steady increase in the number of refugees in Turkey, allowing the Turkish government to use refugees as a bargaining chip against Europe.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM)Global Migration Report 2024Turkey is the world's top refugee-hosting country, with nearly 3.6 million people seeking refuge, mostly from war-torn Syria.

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