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Turkish Interior Ministry on Friday said it has stopped issuing new permits to Syrian refugees who apply for residing in Istanbul, the most populous city in Turkey.

“The Directorate General of Migration Management is no more accepting new requests for Istanbul, considering the population density of the city,” the Hurriyet daily quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

It said that Istanbul, the most popular destination for Syrians fleeing a civil war, is hosting more than 542,000 of the refugees.

“The figure could have doubled if unregistered refugees were included, said a representative of a non-government organisation.

“The authorities apparently decided to combat and curb the influx of Syrian refugees to Istanbul.

“This is because there is a massive demand for the city,” Veysel Ayhan, Head of the International Middle East Peace Research Centre said.

For Ayhan and his aid group, the main problem is the undocumented immigrants who are either already in the city or arriving in the city every day.

“It is not clear how the authorities will cope with these unregistered people.

“During the past one and a half years, security forces have established checkpoints at bus terminals, airports and other transport hubs in Istanbul to stop undocumented Syrians from entering the city.

“Despite the fact that undocumented refugees cannot benefit from education and health services, they still prefer Istanbul to other places,’’ Ayhan said.

Metin Corabatir, Head of Asylum and Migration Research Center said “it seems the decision by the ministry also aims at easing the growing discomfort among the public toward increasing number of Syrians in the country.

“The Syrian refugees have now become more visible not only in Istanbul but across the country, causing more strain between the two communities,” he said CNNTurk channel.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said on Thursday that “Turkey is home to about 3.5 million displaced Syrians, but it is “not in a position” to continue hosting them indefinitely.

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