Turkey has extended the deadline by two months to Oct. 30 for unregistered Syrian refugees to leave its largest city Istanbul, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told Haberturk TV late on Tuesday.
In July, Istanbul’s governor announced the deadline of Aug. 20 for them to return to the provinces where they were first registered, or to face a forcible removal.
The capital Ankara took similar moves beginning Tuesday, to be followed by the western city of Bursa next week, media reports have also cited Soylu as saying.
The eight-year-old war in Syria has caused an influx of millions of refugees to Turkey, Lebanon and other neighbors, and many of them have traveled further to Europe, posing economic and social pressure on the host countries.
Currently, about 3.6 million Syrian refugees are staying in Turkey. They are offered “temporary protection” and required to live where they were initially registered. Travels to other provinces are subject to approval.
Official data show Istanbul hosts close to 548,000 registered Syrian refugees. However, according to the estimate by Istanbul’s governor, the figure exceeds 1 million.
Earlier this year, Istanbul witnessed at least two violent incidents, in which Syrian-owned shops were looted and vandalized. Turkish people are concerned that Syrians have taken away local jobs as well as health and educational resources.