Research paper on the Turkish Government’s Intention to Deport One Million Syrians to North Syria under the Guise of “Voluntary Return”.

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In this research paper, the Voices for Displaced Syrians forum (VDSF), in cooperation with the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), sheds light on the recent developments facing Syrian refugees in Turkey after the Turkish Government’s Intention to Deport One Million Syrians to North Syria under the Guise of “Voluntary Return.” The Turkish government has shifted in recent years away from its initial open-door policy towards Syrians, of whom 3.762.686  are registered under the “temporary protection” status. Türkiye started taking stricter measures against Syrians due to the severe deterioration in the public sentiment on Syrian refugees. This shift in public opinion further accelerated after the start of the economic crisis in Türkiye in the fall of 2018. The currency depreciation and rise in inflation rates had an adverse effect on Turkish citizens’ living standards.

Many Turkish opposition parties and figures adopted a populistic discourse, blaming refugees for the economic and social crises across the country, and consequently promised to start deporting Syrians if elected to power. In response, the Government of Turkish President Erdogan started to enforce throttling policies against refugees. In March 2022, thousands of Syrians found their temporary protection status suddenly suspended. They were asked to verify their residence addresses within the provinces they were initially registered at—i.e. where their Temporary Protection Identification Document (TPID) Aka, “Kimlik” was issued. The suspension of Kimliks deprives refugees of all services entitled to them. Furthermore, over 16 provinces, including Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, have limited the number of neighborhoods in which Syrian refugees are allowed to be registered in.

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