A Guardian investigation revealed that £3 million have been diverted from domestic programmes for economic development and welfare to fund action against asylum seekers in Turkey.
With funding from the United Kingdom (among other nations), a reported 238,448 migrants have been violently stopped from crossing the border by Turkey. Reports include shooting bullets at children, beatings with rifles, and humiliation.
Officials from the Home Office claim this is essential to increasing the country’s “soft power” and securing the borders. However, sources from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) argue the UK “has shown that it will break international law to prevent people from exercising the fundamental human right to seek safety.” JCWI officials point to cloak-and-dagger funding of the UK’s “dirty work” and increasingly xenophobic rhetoric.
The JCWI’s claims are made alongside the increasing resources sent to Turkey border forces to halt migration and asylum. The Guardian’s investigation uncovered that the UK spent £14,000 on Turkey’s border force in 2019, increased to £425,000 in 2021-2022, and has peaked at £3 million this year. Besides the money directly spent, the government has also provided the Turkish border forces (such as the national police and coastguard) with equipment and training including nine vehicles for patrolling.
Sources within the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) note that the number of employees deployed at the border in Turkey has increased, to the point that diplomats in the area are outnumbered by Home Office staff. The Home Office has released statements claiming these departments are like a mini-FCDO; however, sources note that the FCDO is internationally known as “collegiate and collaborative” where the Home Office is known to be “hostile, [and] quite adversarial”.
The 2025 UK border strategy report also points to anti-migrant attitudes by stating they will use “upstream illegal migration countermeasures” and work to improve their “detection capability at the border to reduce the harm caused by attempted and successful illegal entry.” The revelations made by the Guardian’s investigation point to the UK’s commitment to decrease migration.
In response to the investigations unveiling of the funding and the tactics being used by the Turkish border forces, the Home Office defends itself by noting they are operating as any other country in international affairs. Their sources say that these tactics include ‘mutually beneficial close working with our operational counterparts in a range of partner countries, like Turkey, to tackle these and wider socially damaging issues.’
Conversely, a Turkish lawyer specializing in asylum and human rights abuses, Mahmut Kaçan, tells the Guardian that deaths and push backs have been escalating since two years ago. He notes that the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees “never criticizes or mentions what Turkey is doing.” Kaçan points to the EU and any other countries – such as the United Kingdom – funding Turkey border security as being “complicit in the deaths of these people.”