Istanbul expels more than 15,000 undocumented migrants

The Istanbul governor's office said on Thursday that more than 15,000 undocumented migrants including Syrians had been expelled from the city in less than three weeks as part of a government plan to relocate them.

Among those expelled were 2,630 unregistered Syrians who were sent to refugee camps outside the city, the governor's office said on its website. The remaining migrants were relocated to other cities pending deportation.  

Turkish authorities have recently stepped up efforts against undocumented migrants in Istanbul, Turkey's financial capital, which has a population of about 16 million people.

Turkey has been mired in a financial crisis since last year and resentment against Syrian refugees has grown.

Last month, local media reported clashes between Syrians and Turks in Istanbul.[embed:render:embedded:node:33361]Syrian refugees are under temporary protection in Turkey, but the authorities have tightened security measures against them.

Last week, Istanbul's governor gave unregistered Syrian refugees until 20 August to leave or be sent back to the Turkish city where they were first registered.

Turkish media reported that some Syrians were also being deported, prompting fear within the Syrian community in Turkey.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu rejected the reports last week.

Turkey is home to the largest refugee population in the world. It hosts 4 million refugees, including 3.6 million from Syria.

More than half a million Syrians are registered in Istanbul, while another 300,000 Syrians registered elsewhere are estimated to live in the city.    (dpa)