The Home Office last year provided more than $3 million in funding to Turkey’s border guards to prevent migrants from reaching the UK, an investigation into The Guardian found.
According to documents obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, funding for Turkish border guard operations has increased significantly since 2019, when 14,000 were issued to Turkish police and coast guards for maritime border security training. This figure increased to 425,000 in 2021-22 for training and equipment and up to 3 million for return and reintegration support, training and personnel this year.
Funding was diverted from the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget and channeled through the Home Office International Operations, part of the Department’s Office of Information.
In addition to funding, the Interior Ministry provided equipment and training to Turkey’s border forces, including police and coast guards. In June 2022, the British Deputy High Commissioner handed over nine vehicles to Turkish police on the border with Iran.
Last year, Turkey said it turned back 238,448 migrants from its eastern border with Iran. Video evidence seen by The Guardian shows extreme violence and force used against Afghan migrants trying to cross the border into Turkey. This includes authorities firing live ammunition at people as they flee, including at the feet of children. beatings with rifle butts; robbery; Humiliation tactics and pushing people to the other side of the border.
Mahmut Khan, a Turkish lawyer who deals with asylum and human rights violations, said deaths and oppression at the border began to intensify two years ago. UNHCR does not criticize or comment on what Turkey is doing at its borders. They are complicit in the deaths of these people, as are the EU and other countries that fund Turkey for border security.
A source with knowledge of the headquarters’ international operations team said that Turkey has become an important emerging country. [to the UK government] It is considered strategically important for border securitization in the last 2-3 years.
We offer our expertise and provide public servants [locally] The sources said the illegal immigrants or gangs, along with evidence showing routes they believed were operating. Perhaps something like this: This is the route smugglers and illegal immigrants use to get to England. We need to do more to stop it. The Turkish government will then respond as follows. This is what we need to be able to do it. Funding by default.
The source added: We tend not to hold local forces accountable for any targets, but certainly if we say we need to strengthen area X of border security, Turkey needs Y to increase the number of border officers and help them well. You can respond by talking. let them do it
Another source familiar with the work of the Home Office International Operations division said: We pay the same for building soft power credentials in other areas like possible return contracts. It’s like a mini FCDO. [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] Inside the Blue House.
Sources added that Home Office operations abroad included gathering information through interviews with migrants arriving in the UK. Information from the interviews is relayed to the local border forces to devise an operational plan to stop it.
Documents obtained through the FOI request also show that the Ministry of Interior has increased the number of staff dispatched, with FCDO sources saying that there are now more Interior Ministry staff than diplomats working in Turkey.
A senior government source with knowledge of the department’s operations in Turkey said the interior ministry appeared to be quite hostile and quite hostile to its international partners. On the other hand, FCDO is considered relatively collegiate and collaborative. In this context, there is a clear tension in approaches and cultures among employees.
The Department’s 2025 Borders Strategy says one of its key priorities is improving the use of upstream illegal immigration measures to prevent illegal entry into the UK.
The department also stipulates that it will prevent entry into the UK through enhanced border security and work with source and transit countries to help address irregular migration within the region.
Mary Atkinson, Campaign and Network Manager at JCWI, said:
Whether on the borders of Turkey and Iran, or between France and Belgium, these governments are secretly funding others to do their dirty work while stepping up xenophobic rhetoric against the few who finally get here.
Commenting on the findings, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said: This includes addressing these and wider socially damaging issues through close, mutually beneficial collaboration with operational personnel in various partner countries, such as Turkey.
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