Turkey says over 58,000 refugees “voluntarily” returned Syria in 2022

Turkey says over 58,000 refugees “voluntarily” returned Syria in 2022
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Currently 3,535,898 Syrians live in Turkey, according to the official figures published via social media on Monday

A total of 58,758 Syrian refugees have “voluntarily” returned their home country in 2022, Turkish Interior Ministry's Directorate General of Migration Management said, amid international allegations of Ankara forcibly deporting some.

According to the directorate’s annual report, the number of Syrians that returned to the regions in Northern Syria which Turkey deems to be “safe zones” have reached to 539,332.

Currently 3,535,898 Syrians live in Turkey, the figures published by the directorate via social media on Monday showed.

Turkey is home to the largest Syrian refugee population in the world that arrived after a civil war broke in Syria in 2011. Reaching some 3.7 million in 2020, the Turkish government in May has announced the launching of a new project to facilitate the voluntary return of some 1 million Syrian refugees to settle in “safe zones” that Turkey has “cleared of terrorism” in Northern Syria, amid an increasing anti-refugee sentiment in Turkey.

Despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks to “ensure” the Syrians that Turkey will not force them to return home and will continue to protect them, international human rights groups repeatedly blame Ankara of forcibly deporting Syrian civilians.

According to an October report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), Turkish authorities arbitrarily arrested, detained, and deported hundreds of refugees to Syria between February and July 2022.

The Syrians were arrested in homes, workplaces, and on the street, and kept in police custody under poor conditions, where most of them were beaten and abused and forced to sign voluntary return forms, HRW said.

The authorities drove them to border crossing points with Northern Syria and forced them across at gunpoint, the international human rights watchdog said.

According to the United Nations, the war-torn Syria remains unsafe for the return of refugees.