Turkish authorities have told unregistered Syrian migrants in Istanbul to return to the province they are registered in, as part of a bid to relieve pressure on the country’s largest city.
But some Syrians told the BBC many were being deported to Idlib, Syria, where fighting is escalating. They say many are being forced to sign voluntary return documents that they cannot read or understand.
About half a million Syrians are registered in Istanbul – but estimates suggest twice that number are living there, having traveled there from the provinces they were first registered in.
Announcing the move last month, the governor of Istanbul said Syrians with the right to be in the city should carry their passports and identity documents with them at all times, and announced continuous checks at bus and train stations.
Turkey has the reputation as being the world’s largest host of refugees, welcoming 3.6 million Syrians since the war began. But patience with the Syrians is wearing thin. It’s been eight years since the war began, and doors are closing in Turkey and the welcome is running out. Polling has shown a decline in support for Syrian refugees – from about 70% to 40%.