At least 150 Meskhetian Turks, a Turkish-speaking minority in eastern Ukraine, will flee to Turkey's eastern region next week under Turkish asylum measures enacted in April, the secretary-general of the World Meskhetian Turks Association, Fuat Uçar, said on Friday
Uçar said Turkey would take in at least 3,000 Meskhetian Turks who live in Ukraine's war-torn Donbass region. The first group, which consists of at least 150 people, will arrive in Turkey during the week of Oct. 19.
According to the U.N., more than 6,000 people have died, and 1.4 million people have been internally displaced since April 2014 in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Located in this region, Donbass includes the port city of Mariupol and Donetsk airport.
In April, the Council of Ministers enacted measures to allow at least 3,000 Meskhetian Turks to be accepted by the government as legal asylum seekers. Ucar said the government has already prepared 30 residential buildings for the first 150 Meskhetian Turks in two eastern provinces: Kars and Erzincan. "The families will be brought to Turkey at regular intervals. The personal information of the migrants has already been given to the Interior Ministry by the Turkish Embassy in Ukraine," Uçar said.
According to the measures, the 3,000 Meskhetian Turks must migrate to Turkey within the year. However, the government has sped up preparations and expedited the legal process, Uçar added.
Meskhetian Turks were expelled in 1944 from their homeland - the Meskheti region in Georgia-by Stalin in an attempt to remove Turks from the shores of the Black Sea. They faced discrimination and human rights abuses before and after deportation. Those who migrated to Ukraine in 1990 settled in shantytowns used by seasonal workers.