Irregular migrants in some cases not recognized refugees risk their lives in the hopes of finding a job in the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Ankara, Afyon, İzmir, Balikesir, and eventually mainland Europe.
According to the Turkish Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Migration Management, some 53,176 migrants have been stopped so far this year until 16 June. The figure is half of the 122,302 registered last year and a major drop from the 454,662 migrants stopped in 2019.
Most of the migrants flee their countries for similar reasons. For Afghans and Pakistanis, war and violence force them from their homelands. For Iranians, they hit the road to Turkey - their main access point to Europe - dreaming of better economic opportunities and escaping the oppressive regime in Tehran. But the route is fraught with peril and risk, with many joining the growing list of victims of human trafficking in the region.
Nasrollah Movahedpour, who was born in Mashhad, northeast Iran, arrived in Turkey four years ago after fleeing his native country. He says that he left after the authorities closed his fifth store. The pain and frustration led him to assault a police officer.
He fled, and made a new life in Van, the first city irregular migrants and refugees come to when they make it onto Turkish soil after crossing from Iran. But very few remain there, as for most the promised land lies much farther west.