Turkey detains over 94,000 irregular migrants since start of 2021

Turkish authorities have so far detained 94,915 irregular migrants this year, Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı said on Sept. 6. Meanwhile, pro-government columnist Abulkadir Selvi wrote that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planning to repatriate all of the Afghan refugees to their homeland if the Taliban accepts it.

This file photo shows Afghan refugees arriving in Turkey along a route to the west in Erzurum.

Duvar English

Turkey has detained 94,915 irregular migrants since the beginning of this year, Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı said on Sept. 6, online news outlets T24 reported.

Çataklı said that the data conflict with reports of an “abnormal increase” in the number of migrants fleeing to Turkey.

“The number of foreigners whose entry into Turkey was prevented on the border in 2020 was 505,375, whereas this number is 307,850 so far for this year. The allegations of an abnormal increase cannot be confirmed by the data. In 2020, despite the negative circumstances stemming from the pandemic, we prevented the migration of 122,000 people. Since the beginning of this year, 94,915 irregular migrants have been detained,” Çataklı said during a monthly press meeting.

Çataklı also gave the data on the number of irregular Afghan migrants who have been detained in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

He said that Turkish security forces detained 201,437 Afghan irregular migrants in 2019, whereas this number was realized as 50,161 in 2020 and as 40,198 so far in 2021.

“In contrary to some people's allegations, it is not right that Turkey is demanding this flock of [migration], welcomes it and showing an inaction response,” he said.

'Erdoğan planning to repatriate Afghan refugees if Taliban accepts it'

Meanwhile, pro-government columnist Abulkadir Selvi wrote that Turkey might send Afghanistan back to their country if the Taliban accepts it.

The announcement was made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a meeting of the Central Executive Board (MYK) of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) last week, Selvi wrote in his column in daily Hürriyet on Sept. 6.

“The issue of the new administration in Afghanistan came to the agenda of the MYK [last week] through the refugee problem. It was emphasized that even just for the repatriation of Afghan refugees, there is a need for a contact with the new government that will be established in Afghanistan [by the Taliban]. President Erdoğan spoke about 'sending all of the Afghans if the new administration accepts it.' This is a new and important approach,” Selvi wrote.

Turkey is expecting a possible new influx of refugees fleeing Afghanistan following the takeover of the country by the Taliban. Anti-migrant sentiments in Turkey are high once more, amid reports of an increasing refugee wave from Afghanistan.

Videos put on social media showing Afghans entering Turkey by the hundreds have in recent months sparked outrage among Turks, with government officials saying that Turkey “cannot handle another burden of migration.”