BALIKESIR, Turkey

Turkey is currently hosting more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, the country’s interior minister said Wednesday.

“The number of Syrians under temporary protection in our country is 3,664,873,” Suleyman Soylu said, addressing immigration officials in the northwestern Balikesir province at an annual evaluation meeting.

The number of foreigners in Turkey with a residence or work permit currently stands at 1,032,348, Soylu noted.

Criticizing the West, he said they are busy managing the pandemic crisis, but ignoring the migration crisis.

“Not only originating from Syria, but there is a migration issue also in Africa, the Middle East, and South America,” he added.

He noted that Turkey is the country hosting the largest number of refugees in the world.

“We have not determined our migration policy based on economic or political motives,” said Soylu, noting that the country made its migration policy based on a “2,200-year-old state mind” as well as its civilization’s values, and beliefs.

Soylu underlined that in 2019, some 103,858 deportation proceedings were conducted in Turkey, with 41,379 in 2020 despite the pandemic, and the number of deportation proceedings since the beginning of this year stands at 22,115.

Also, Soylu said that while 454,662 irregular migrants were held in 2019 in Turkey, this number dropped to 122,302 last year due to the pandemic.

​​​​​​​He noted that as of March 24 this year, 22,115 irregular migrants have been held by Turkish security forces.

“We want to warn Europe from here again, this Frontex organization [EU border agency] has been engraved in your history as a black mark, as another exploitative behavior in your history,” he said.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers who want to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Turkey hosts nearly 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world.

*Writing by Burak Dag

Copyright 2021 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.