Turkey

Last group of Ahiska Turks to return home on Nov. 16

Houses built by state-owned TOKI are ready and waiting for our citizens, says Ahiska Turks’ Erzincan representative

15.11.2017
Last group of Ahiska Turks to return home on Nov. 16

By Yakup Bakar

ERZINCAN, Turkey

The last group of Ahiska Turks, who were forced to migrate from the Caucasus during the Soviet era, will return to their homeland on Nov. 16.

With President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s instruction and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s coordination, sixth and the last group of Ahiska Turks will be brought from Ukraine to Turkey’s eastern Erzurum province’s Uzumlu district.

First group of Ahiska Turks, also known as Meskhetian Turks, came to Turkey on Dec. 25, 2015.

The last group will be accommodated at houses built by Turkey’s state-owned housing agency TOKI in Uzumlu district’s Bayirbag village.

The sixth group that consists of 56 families (184 people) will be accommodated to the same village with a group of 82 other families (172 people), who could not come with the fifth group due to various reasons.

They would be brought from Ukraine to Turkey via two planes.

Migration from Donetsk war area will be completed with the arrival of the sixth group, Vahid Mirza, Ahiska Turks’ Erzincan representative told Anadolu Agency.

“Food, beverages and even detergents are provided. Houses are waiting for our citizens,” Mirza said, adding that every need of the families has been met.

Ahiska Turks were expelled from Georgia’s Meskheti region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944.

They also faced discrimination and human rights abuses before and after the Soviet deportation. Those who migrated to Ukraine in 1990 settled in shantytowns used by seasonal workers.

The majority of Ahiska Turks in Ukraine fled their homes during the 2014 conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Turkey has voluntarily accepted thousands of Ahiska Turks and granted citizenship to 585 of those so far.

According to World Ahiska Turks Association (DATUB), nearly 25,000 Ahiska Turks live in Turkey.

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