Istanbul expels more than 15,000 undocumented migrants
The Istanbul governor's office said on Thursday that more than 15,000 undocumented migrants including Syrians had been expelled from the city in less than three weeks as part of a government plan to relocate them.
Among those expelled were 2,630 unregistered Syrians who were sent to refugee camps outside the city, the governor's office said on its website. The remaining migrants were relocated to other cities pending deportation.
Turkish authorities have recently stepped up efforts against undocumented migrants in Istanbul, Turkey's financial capital, which has a population of about 16 million people.
Turkey has been mired in a financial crisis since last year and resentment against Syrian refugees has grown.
Syrians forge new lives in Istanbul
More than half a million refugees of Syrian origin currently live in Istanbul, carving out a niche for themselves in a new country under often difficult conditions. Initiatives such as "Small Projects Istanbul" help them in their search for housing, health care and school education. By Marian Brehmer
The province of Istanbul is the main destination of the approximately 3.6 million Syrians who have sought refuge in Turkey – ahead of the border provinces of Sanliurfa and Gaziantep
Syrians live in Istanbul mainly in the suburbs on the European side of the city, partly in ghetto-like districts, where whole rows of houses are inhabited by Syrians. The "Malta Bazaar" in Fatih is now known as "Little Damascus" due to its numerous Syrian shops
Many Syrians earn their living as day labourers for lack of a work permit. Numerous garbage collectors on the streets of the Bosphorus metropolis, who re-sell the plastic they collect at a price per kilo, come from Syria
"Small Projects Istanbul" is an NGO that has been supporting Syrian families for six years in areas such as housing, health care and school education. Small Projects Istanbul operates a community centre in the Capa district of Fatih, which is now used by around 200 Syrian families in the surrounding area
One of the core projects is the "Women's Empowerment Project", which organises weekly handicraft courses for Syrian housewives. The workshops in sewing, embroidery, crocheting, textile dyeing or macrame are aimed at women with different skills. One of the products they make are earrings in all colours and shapes
Wafa works in t-shirt production and is co-founder of the specially created product brand "Muhra", which is based on the conviction that each of the women has untapped talents. For Wafa, who lost her husband in Syria, the project brings not only a regular income but above all an increase in self-confidence
"I no longer feel only responsible for my family, but for the whole group and for the quality of our products," says Wafa, letting the scissors slide through the fabric. "My children are proud of the t-shirts I produce"
The finished t-shirts are printed with positive messages and motifs from the Arab culture. For those involved, this creative work helps them process the loss of their homeland
"It is important to us that the women put all the skills they learn here to good use later in their everyday lives," says U.S. social worker Lauren Simcic, who has lived in Turkey since 2015 and now co-ordinates the women's programme
Syrian refugees are under temporary protection in Turkey, but the authorities have tightened security measures against them.
Last week, Istanbul's governor gave unregistered Syrian refugees until 20 August to leave or be sent back to the Turkish city where they were first registered.
Turkish media reported that some Syrians were also being deported, prompting fear within the Syrian community in Turkey.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu rejected the reports last week.
More than half a million Syrians are registered in Istanbul, while another 300,000 Syrians registered elsewhere are estimated to live in the city. (dpa)