Turkish tides: The complex routes of migration to Europe

Turkish tides: The complex routes of migration to Europe
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Unearthing the diverse pathways and human stories behind Turkey's growing diaspora.

By Remzi Bundancir

Migration from Turkey to European countries, including the US and Canada, has surged recently. A stark illustration of this trend is reflected in the German police records, noting a 254 percent increase in the number of Turkish citizens entering Germany illegally in the previous year. Arti Gercek has delved deep to unravel the diverse pathways and methods adopted by individuals who, unable to migrate through established legal channels, resort to alternative, often hazardous routes.

Most crossings, especially from cities like Bingol, Mus, Diyarbakir (Amed), Agri, and Dersim, are reported to be illegal. The financial toll of reaching European destinations is excessive, with the price for unlawful passage ranging between 7 and 15 thousand euros. Prospective migrants resort to various strategies, including engaging tour companies, getting visas, entering business deals, and even direct border crossings.

Venturing through business deals

Poland emerged as a favored destination for many. Individuals often collaborate with networks that facilitate their entry by simulating employment in Polish companies, thus securing a visa and a year-long residency. The starting price for this route hovers around 7 thousand euros.

The tourism tours pathway

Human traffickers exploit tourism companies as conduits for migration. These organized tours, often heading to Mediterranean and African countries, serve as camouflaged migration routes, with individuals separating from the group upon reaching European territories.

Chain of Intermediaries

Yet another prevalent method involves a chain of intermediaries that helps individuals navigate the Balkan countries to reach Europe. The migratory journey often includes crossing borders at strategic times, long treks, and enlisting guides to navigate through forests, starting at a tariff of 6 thousand euros.

Arranged marriages via Bulgaria

An alternative route that has gained traction involves arranged marriages in Bulgaria, where men from Turkey are paired with Bulgarian women for a substantial fee. Given its perceived lower risk, this method commands a higher cost of around 15 thousand euros.

The asylum challenge

Ercan Aslan, a sworn translator and advisor to asylum seekers in Bremen, Germany, attests to the substantial increase in Turkish migrants. A notable shift in the young population and skilled workers exemplifies a significant brain drain from Turkey. However, asylum requests, especially for those entering through Poland, are often met with stringent restrictions, and the majority, particularly those lacking political persecution grounds, face rejection.

Marriage scrutiny

The German police have heightened their vigilance concerning the influx of arranged marriages through Bulgaria. Rigorous investigations are conducted to distinguish genuine unions from orchestrated arrangements, reinforcing the challenges encountered by migrants.

Living in the shadows

Despite stringent regulations and rejection, many continue to live in Germany illegally. The narrative of "Our Brother Mahmut from Bingöl" exemplifies the life of those who have evaded legal pathways for decades, living and working in the shadows, a testament to the persistence and resilience of many migrants.

Statistical insights

Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data reveal a 62.3 percent escalation in emigration from Turkey in 2022, while the influx of immigrants to the country plummeted by 33.2 percent. This migratory trend, encompassing a diverse demographic spectrum, underscores a significant shift and presents multifaceted challenges and implications for Turkey and the host nations.