Turkey says it has expelled nearly 50,000 migrants from Istanbul, including more than 6,000 Syrians. The government says the migrants were in the city illegally and will be made to leave Turkey.
The Istanbul governor's office said on Friday that 42,888 "illegal" migrants had been arrested and sent to repatriation centers, to be removed later from Turkey. It said 6,416 Syrians had been placed in "temporary refugee centers."
A campaign from July through to the end of October was aimed at reducing the number of unregistered refugees in Turkey's biggest city. The country hosts about 3.6 million Syrians -- more than any other country.
Syrians who are registered in Turkey are given "temporary protection", as the Turkish government does not offer them formal refugee status. Under the system, the Syrians have to stay in the province to which they were initially assigned, and can only visit other cities with short-term passes.
In July, officials said that 547,000 Syrians were officially registered in Istanbul, and that no new registrations were being accepted. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said at the time that the aim was to expel 80,000 undocumented migrants by the end of the year.
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Public sentiment in Turkey towards Syrian refugees has worsened in recent years. The Turkish government wants to settle some of them in an area it now controls in northeast Syria, after it launched an offensive last month against the Kurdish YPG militia.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch last month published reports saying Turkey was forcibly sending Syrian refugees to northern Syria. Turkey's foreign ministry called the claims in the reports "false and imaginary."
mm/ch (AFP, Reuters)