7 Billion Humans | Immigration: Kumkapi Immigrant Neighborhood | Istanbul, Turkey

Kumkapi Immigrant Neighborhood | Istanbul, Turkey

Originally primarily populated by Armenians, this neighborhood is now a mix of Iraqis, Georgians, Armenians, Iranians, Algerians, people from Eastern Turkey, and Sudanese.  This is the area nearby Laleli (Tulip) neighborhood where Russians and Eastern Europeans started selling by “luggage tourism”—exchanging furs and semiprecious stones, toys, and hardware for jeans and other items to sell back home.

Turkey is primarily affected by internal migration. Istanbul’s population was two million thirty years ago and is now twelve million. In thirty years, Turkey has gone from being seventy percent rural to seventy percent urban.  Turkey is also a spinning top for migration to Europe from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Sudan.  Sudanese go first to Libya and then on to Turkey.  Turkey is very late to the party to deal with immigration and one of the factors they need to remedy in order to be granted EU membership.  They are still working off a 1951 law that limits immigration from only wealthy west European countries.  Meanwhile, Africa receives more refugees than Europe.  250,000 foreigners seek a better life by moving through Turkey, but few want to stay. According to a UN refugee agency lawyer in Istanbul, “But if you are Muslim you tend to stay longer.”

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