Turkey processing citizenship for 50,000 Syrians

File: Turkish interior minster.

Turkey   will grant around 50,000 Syrians citizenship, a top Interior Ministry official said Friday.

Speaking in Turkey’s southern province of Şanlıurfa, one of the cities hosting Syrian refugee camps, Interior Ministry General Directorate of Population and Citizenship Affairs Manager Sinan Güner told Anadolu Agency (AA) the process of granting citizenship had already begun.

“The citizenship process of a total of 35,000 Syrians has finished now,” Güner said. He said a further 15,000 applications were being reviewed, mostly children.

According to Interior Ministry figures, over 12,000 other Syrians have been given Turkish citizenship so far.

Ministry figures also show Turkey hosts around 3 million Syrian refugees.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and to some European states since civil war erupted in Syria in March 2011.

Güner said the Syrians who would be granted citizenship had been selected according to certain criteria, particularly those with skills that would contribute to Turkey.

Turkey is also in the process of granting citizenship to 20,000 Ahiska, also known as Meskhetian Turks, Güner said.

Ahıska Turks originally came from the Meskheti region of Georgia but were expelled from their homeland by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944.

Around 22,000 Ahıska Turks live in Ahlat, a district in Turkey’s eastern Bitlis province, according to Güner.

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