Turkey: Nearly 219,000 irregular migrants held in 2018

By Sengul Oymak, Onur Orhan and Metin Girgin

KOCAELI, Turkey (AA) – Turkey has held some 218,950 irregular migrants and 4,560 human traffickers in 2018, said the country's interior minister on Friday.

“182,151 of them are not Syrians. Afghans and Pakistanis are in the lead among them,” Suleyman Soylu said at the opening of the Kartepe Summit on “Immigration and Humanity” in the northwestern province of Kocaeli.

“Migration is not something new for us. We have been exposed to it many times throughout history and we managed all of [the migrants] within the framework of conscience and mercy,” Soylu said, adding that Turkey always preferred to manage migration rather than preventing it.

“Turkey’s population is 80,810,000. We still host 3,587,930 Syrians,” he said, noting that there were 500 million EU citizens while the number of Syrians in the bloc only stood at 700,000.

He also stressed that the number of Syrians only residing in Istanbul (537,000) was more than the number Germany (518,000) currently hosts, according to 2017 figures.

“Migration management is not only setting up camps and giving three meals a day,” he said, adding that “sadly” there were countries not even doing that.

Soylu highlighted that managing the migration meant meeting the migrants' needs, and providing their adaptation in social and economic life, as well as taking them to their final destination.

“Because each migration has a final stop,” he said, adding that the hosting countries needed to take them to those destinations.

“If they decided to stay in your country, then you should prepare its infrastructure," he added.

In March 2016, EU and Turkey reached an agreement to stop irregular migration through the Aegean Sea, and improve the conditions of more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The EU pledged €6 billion ($7.44 billion) in funding for the refugees, and promised to mobilize the second €3 billion ($3.72 billion) tranche by the end of 2018.

Turkey has spent more than $32 billion from its own national resources for helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

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