Turkey on Sunday said it would ban Syrian refugees living in Turkey from visiting their families back home during Eid al-Adha, similar to the restrictions imposed on their visits to Syria during Eid al-Fitr holiday last April, said Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.
Each year, thousands of Syrian refugees cross the border into Syria to celebrate the holidays and then return to Turkey.
“This is currently not acceptable. Those wishing to return to Syria will receive a one-way transit permit,” Soylo said at a press conference Saturday in Ankara.
The Adha festival is set for mid-July this year.
The Interior Minister also spoke about the new quotas that his country will begin imposing on the number of residence permits for foreigners.
He said that as of July 1, Turkey will limit residence permits for foreigners to 20 percent of the population of certain neighborhoods, adding that the rule will effectively shut 1,200 neighborhoods to more foreign residents.
Soylu addressed the new procedures and controls that will be applied in the next stage, saying that the percentage of foreigners allowed to reside in each neighborhood will be reduced from 25 percent to 20 percent, starting from the first of July.
Accordingly, 1,200 neighborhoods will be closed to requests for residence in Turkey.
The Turkish authorities had announced in the past months a number of measures to enforce stricter restrictions on the areas where Syrians can reside.
The new rules came as anti-immigrant sentiment piles pressure on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before next year’s elections.
On Wednesday, the Turkish Interior Minister said taxi drivers are allowed to check the travel permit documents of foreign passengers, in a move to limit the transportation of illegal immigrants.
He said a camera system will be installed in truck stops to prevent stowaways from cutting holes and hiding in the tarpaulins of trucks.
In the framework of combating illegal immigration, the Turkish Interior Ministry said that 34,112 immigrants who entered the country illegally early this year have been deported.
There are about 3.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
In February, the Turkish authorities said 16 provinces, including Istanbul, Bursa, Ankara, Antalya, Izmir and Hatay, where the Syrian population is particularly high, have already stopped issuing residencies for newly arrived foreigners.
Soylu also announced on Saturday that some Syrians will not receive the temporary protection cards, or Kimlik, after they enter Turkish territory in certain ways.
He said Syrians coming from their country will be transferred to camps in Hatay and will be questioned about their places of residence in Syria. The Minister said that if those Syrians reside in Damascus, they will be returned home immediately.