Turkey ‘forcibly deports 170 refugees to Syria’: reports
Turkish authorities have reportedly deported 170 Syrian refugees to areas in northern Syria via the Tal Abyad/Akcakale border crossing, Syrian activists have said.
Taha Elgazi, a prominent Turkey-based Syrian activist and former member of the opposition-run local council of Aleppo city, said in a Facebook post that the 170 refugees were deported in several waves on Friday and Saturday.
They were mostly residents of a temporary shelter in the southern Turkish city of Urfa and all had Turkish temporary protection cards given to Syrian refugees, known as Kimlik.
The refugees were beaten and insulted by security agents at the shelter in order to pressure them to sign papers saying that they had returned to Syria "voluntarily", he added.
Other Syrian activists tweeted images purporting to show Syrian refugees sitting on a floor with their hands cuffed in preparation for deportation.
The Turkish authorities have deported 170 Syrian refugees from Turkey to areas in northern Syria through the Tel Abyad / Akçakale border crossing. They are being deported to Syria with their hands tied like criminals, but they were forced to sign a document stating that they… pic.twitter.com/kdwVZC31GS— Rowaida Kanaan (@HarmonySyria) July 17, 2023
The New Arab has contacted the Turkish embassy in London for comment.
Turkey hosts approximately 3.5 million Syrian refugees, most feeling to the country following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011.
However, there has been increasing hostility and xenophobia against them in Turkey, with politicians scapegoating them for crime and Turkey’s economic problems.
Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections this year saw heightened xenophobic rhetoric against Syrian refugees, with opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu vowing to deport all of them within two years and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also promising "voluntary" returns of Syrians to their country.
Thousands of refugees have arbitrarily been deported from Turkey to Syria in recent years amid condemnation by human rights groups.