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Refugees receive food and medicine in Cesme Park in Izmir, Turkey. Getty Images / Majority World

In recent years, Turkey has emerged as a key partner on all migration issues. Turkey is indeed a major country for migratory flows since it is a crossroads and is the first refugee host country in the world.

The most western Turkish regions are a gateway to Europe , while to the east and south-east its borders open to the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. Thanks to air links and visa exemptions, she even receives many migrants from Africa. Turkey is a transit country for irregular migration.

It is also, since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, the first refugee host country in the world. According to official figures, probably underestimated, it is home to four million migrants, including more than 3.5 million Syrians, 170,000 Afghans, 142,000 Iraqis, 39,000 Iranians and 5,700 Somalis, to name only the first. from the list. In terms of hospitality, the Turkish policy is on the distinction between Syrians and non-Syrians.

No refugee reception

For non-Syrians, it is important to know that Turkey does not accept refugees in the legal sense of the term. It has signed the Geneva Convention, but with a geographical restriction: only European citizens are eligible for the status of " refugee " in Turkey, that is to say nobody.

►Also read: Turkey: Thousands of migrants arrested in Istanbul

Asylum-seekers should contact the United Nations Refugee Agency in Ankara, in the hope that the latter will accept their case and redirect them to a host country. Those whose files are denied or who have not applied are at risk of deportation. Since the beginning of the year, Turkish police have arrested nearly 285,000 irregular migrants.

Temporary protection

As for the Syrians, technically they are not refugees, but they enjoy temporary protection, which gives them access to health services and education. In recent months, under pressure from a very hostile public opinion , the authorities have drastically tightened controls and sanctions against Syrians who are not in good standing.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has even threatened to " open the doors " of Europe to Syrians, so to draw a line on the migration agreement signed in 2016. In fact, the arrival of migrants in Greece is accelerating already in recent months. What the Turkish president wants to say is that his country no longer has the financial and human means to host millions of Syrians, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more likely to arrive from Idleb if the Syrian regime continues its offensive against this province.

►Also read: Turkey: Erdogan under pressure to reconnect with Syrian neighbor

Turkey's plan is to create a large, secure area in northern Syria to return refugees. But beyond the political and military obstacles, such a project would cost billions of euros. Ankara is putting pressure on Europeans to get their hands on the wallet.