Capacity of Turkey’s repatriation centers to reach 20,000

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The capacity of repatriation centers will be increased to 20,000 in May as Turkey continues to fight irregular migration, Ramazan Seçilmiş, general director at the migration directorate, said Sunday.

Speaking at a press briefing in the capital Ankara, Seçilmiş said that thanks to the repatriation centers, the procedures of irregular migrants are handled in a short period and that migrants have access to basic rights.

According to the directorate’s data, since 2016, 320,172 foreigners have been deported within the scope of the fight against irregular migration.

Saying that last year, the entry of 451,096 irregular migrants was blocked, Seçilmiş said that the number of irregular migrant crossings prevented so far in 2022 has reached 127,256. The highest number of irregular migrants consisted of Afghans, followed by Syrians, Palestinians and Pakistanis, he added.

He said that the repatriation centers only had a capacity of 1,740 back in 2015 and that this will be increased to 20,000, an almost tenfold increase.

Seçilmiş pointed out that Turkey’s capacity in terms of repatriation exceeded all of Europe and told Anadolu Agency (AA): “Before the U.K. left the European Union, the bloc’s repatriation capacity was 21,000. Currently, the European Union has a capacity of 16,000, which means that we have a capacity well above Europe.”

Indicating that the rates of repatriation increased by 74% compared to the previous year, Seçilmiş said, “When we look at the deportation rates in general, we send almost half of every 100 irregular migrants back to their countries, our rate is close to 50%. Again, this rate is around 18% in the European Union.”

Seçilmiş’s comments came as the debate on migration and the presence of Syrians in the country has once again become an issue of debate in Turkey.

Turkey is hosting the highest number of refugees globally, with close to 4 million Syrian refugees, while Afghans are believed to be the second-largest refugee community after Syrians.

Refugees are widely embraced by the public, but the opposition parties often look to fuel a xenophobic, anti-refugee discourse.

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