Syrian Refugees Must Not Become Casualty of Turkiyë’s Politics

Statement from Refugees International Senior Advocate for the Middle East Jesse Marks:

“Syrian refugees in Turkiyë’s biggest cities could face more restrictive policies and higher risks of deportation after Turkiyë’s Republican People’s Party (CHP)—an active opponent of hosting refugees—swept local elections, notably in Istanbul and Ankara, on March 31.

In Turkiyë, Syrian refugees are consistently used as a convenient scapegoat during tumultuous political elections. Last year, Refugees International shed light on the alarming increase in Syrian refugees being forcibly repatriated or coerced into returning from Turkiyë to Northwest Syria in the aftermath of the deadly 2023 earthquakes.

During the 2023 presidential elections, Turkish political parties, including the CHP, singled out the country’s 3.6 million Syrian refugees, blaming them for Turkiyë’s economic instability and fomenting anti-Syrian sentiment. The CHP leadership threatened to deport all Syrian refugees. Refugees International found that in the run up to and following the 2023 presidential elections, Turkish authorities rounded up and forcibly deported thousands of Syrians. Now, with the CHP at the helm in Turkiyë’s largest cities, we could see these trends worsen. 

Policies designed to forcibly return Syrian refugees to Syria under current conditions constitute refoulement and threaten the safety of Syrian refugees. Refugees International calls on the Turkish government—both at the national and local levels—to respect the legal status of Syrian refugees residing in their territory and cease all raids, detention, and deportation of refugees to Syria.” 

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