Istanbul's districts – Küçükçekmece, Başakşehir, Bağcılar, Avcılar, Bahçelievler, Sultangazi, Esenler and Zeytinburnu – have been closed for issuing any residence permit to foreign nationals as no new registrations will be made, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Friday.
Speaking after the Istanbul Migration Evaluation Meeting, Soylu told the press that another eight districts were closed to foreign residence registrations while Fatih and Esenyurt were closed previously.
The minister, however, highlighted also that this rule might have exceptions. “If he/she is a student and has a university in that district or if he/she has bought a house as an investment. There is also the matter of sickness.”
Soylu said that while the total number of foreigners in Istanbul was 1,309,394 in April, the number decreased to 1,271,279, despite the arrival of Russians and Ukrainians in the last months.
"The total number of our Syrian brothers and sisters in Türkiye is 3,646,278; these are those who came here due to the internal conflict in Syria, which we describe as 'under temporary protection.'"
“Istanbul has long been closed to the registration of Syrians under temporary protection status. Some neighborhoods and districts in Istanbul are closed to all foreigners, not just Syrians under temporary protection status,” Soylu underlined.
In February, the ministry had announced that 781 neighborhoods in Türkiye were closed to the registrations because the number of foreigners exceeded 25% of the total population.
Some circles in Türkiye have been fueling anti-refugee sentiment recently as news of a new Afghan migrant wave gathered steam, making the issue of migration once again fair game for political discussions. The main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has pledged frequently to send Syrian migrants and refugees in Türkiye back to their war-torn homes within two years if he assumes office.
The prospect of a new influx of refugees following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has reinforced the unreceptive public mood. Videos purporting to show young Afghan men being smuggled into Türkiye from Iran caused public outrage and led to calls for the government to safeguard the country’s borders.
Türkiye hosts nearly 4 million refugees – more than any other country in the world. After the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, Türkiye adopted an "open-door policy" for people fleeing the conflict, granting them "temporary protection" status.
Türkiye has made large investments in social cohesion policies to help Syrians integrate into Turkish society smoothly.
Ankara so far has spent around $40 billion (TL 274 billion) on Syrians in Türkiye, while the support from the European Union to Türkiye for refugees has been only around 3 billion euros ($3.34 billion) from a promised 6 billion euros – a gap Ankara has long demanded be rectified.