By Lauren Williams
GAZIANTEP: Syrians now need permission to travel domestically from the Turkish provinces they are registered in.
Turkey is cracking down on Syrian refugee movements within the country, in a move that appears to be an effort to stem the flow of migrants to coastal areas with the intention of travel to Greece.
Syrians have reported being barred from travel for failing to present permission from the province of their registration.
Rawad Haidar, 26, said he was prevented from boarding a plane from the southern city of Gaziantep to Istanbul for business last week after failing to gain the required permission.
“They said I needed permission from the ministry. A lot of other Syrians are in the same position,” he said.
There has been no formal announcement of a new rule, but Turkish authorities have begun enforcing dormant administrative rulings that Syrians must gain permission to travel between cities inside Turkey and must hold a valid residence permit. Although the rule is not law under the temporary protection legislation covering Syrians in Turkey, it appears that it is being applied at airports and bus stations in recent weeks.
A statement posted outside the Ministry of Migration in Gaziantep states in English and Arabic:
“According to Article 91 of the Foreigners and International Protection Law NO 6458, and for providing temporary protection to Syrian Nationalities — our guests – in our country: For all who have the temporary protection ID from the Immigration Department in Gaziantep and who residing in it, they must get a travel permit from the Immigration Department in Gaziantep which can enable them to move from Gaziantep governorate to another.”
Director of the Migration Research Program at Koç. University, Istanbul, Professor Ahmet Icduygu, said the crackdown is aimed at keeping administrative track of over 2.5 million Syrians in the country, and meeting EU demands to try to stem the flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for a 3 Billion Euro aid package.
“They are trying to satisfy the EU because of the visa rules and of course, because they want the money,” he said.
He said while it was necessary to try to control the movement of people under protection, the ruling raised concerns about human rights regarding freedom of movement.
Under a deal signed in October, Turkey agreed to try to prevent tens of thousands of migrants from leaving its shores to Europe in exchange for aid and the relaxation of visa rules for Turkish citizens to Europe.