Published October 4th, 2020

Basic Data and Short Characterization

Turkey is a country of mixed emigration, transit, and immigration movements. Turkey became an important country of first reception and transit for people seeking protection mainly from conflicts in neighbouring countries such as Syria, Iran, and Iraq. The EU’s externalization interests and Turkey’s interests in having a better bargaining position vis-à-vis the Bloc have fundamentally shaped the relations between them. At the same time, more and more Turkish citizens are fleeing from the “new Turkey”. The migration regime in Turkey has been further institutionalized, legally upgraded, and fully nationalized during the last decade. These structural changes, however, do not necessarily mean that the lives and livelihoods of migrants have been improved. Moreover, the young insufficient protection system is neither right-based nor, in many cases, transparent. It is estimated that there are around 6 million migrants, including refugees, in Turkey according to the United Nations. Turkey is a member of NATO, the Council of Europe, and since 2005 accession candidate to join the European Union.

Economy and Government

Turkey is a highly centralized unitary state that has in 2018 shifted from the parliamentary system to the executive presidency. Proponents of the Turkish presidential system see it as a constellation for a fluid way of governance. The system is, however, criticized for virtually dissolving the separation of powers and giving the president enormous competences, such as the appointment of ministers, governors and high-ranking administrative personal as well as influence over the judicial system. The shift followed a two-year state of emergency (20.07.2016 – 19.07.2018) set into place after the failed coup attempt from July 2016 in which approximately 250 people were killed. The coup attempt was followed by what the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced as the “cleansing of the system”: more than 500,000 preliminary procedures have been instituted, almost 20,000 people have been sentenced and around 150,000 public servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, allegedly for having ties with coup plotters.[1] Further, more than 170 media outlets were closed, 150 journalists and media workers were in prisoned and over 1,500 associations and organisations of various forms were closed. Counterterrorism legislation as well as the shift to the presidential system succeeded the state of emergency without bringing an end to the extraordinary power the authorities used under the emergency legislation. Amnesty International criticized that “the state of emergency has been used to consolidate draconian governmental power, silence critical voices and strip away basic rights”. Still, reforms are being passed that expand President Erdoğan's sphere of influence, such as the strengthening of the so-called makeshift police force, which was agreed on in June 2020.

Historically, the Turkish Republic was, since its establishment in 1923, ruled by a single party (Republican People’s Party, tr. Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) until 1950, four years after the first multi-party elections took place. Turkish governments, since then, have predominantly been right-wing.[2] Established as “guardian of the constitution” in the modern nationalistic Turkish Republic, the Turkish military institution used to have the upper hand over civil governments and had (tried to) conduct military coups/interventions in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1997, and 2016.

The Justice and Development Party (tr. Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) which was found in 2001 is in power since 2002. During the AKP rule, the party was able to present itself (especially between 2007 and 2011) as a democratic force with reform agendas. The AKP was relatively successful in constructing that image, at least for a short while, by addressing three major issues: military-civil relations, the “Kurdish issue” and accessing the EU. However, the democratic performance of the government has been weakening at least since the Gezi protest in 2013, and considerably backsliding during the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt and the shift toward the executive presidential system.

Since the AKP came to power, the rapprochement with Middle Eastern countries has been among the party’s top foreign policy priorities. This priority has further been consolidated by the AKP, especially after the short-lived talks of accession to the EU have stumbled.[3] While this development may be interpreted through cultural and ideological lens to some extent, the political economy of the move holds great importance. As a proponent of the neoliberal market economy, the AKP has been keen on opening new foreign markets for Turkish exporters especially for the conservative bourgeois class in Anatolia, one of the party’s main components.

When the Arab Spring protests started in 2011, the AKP was not only interested in having good relations, including free trade and movement arrangements, with many countries in the Middle East, but also, ultimately, interested in seeking to have ideologically-similar governments that would make ideal partners. This was based on the assumption by the Turkish government that any power transition in the region would necessarily bring Muslim Brotherhood to power. In this context, and alongside the drive for international status, the initial open-door policy by Turkey towards refugees from Syria and other countries has been shaped.

This attitude, however, has changed fundamentally when the borders have been upgraded and sealed off by the army and an 800 km concrete wall along the shared border with Syria was erected.

Dynamics that have led to such a change are related to a combination of factors: the false assumption by the Turkish government that the Arab Spring would swiftly lead to power transition and that most of the refugees would be able to voluntarily return, deterioration of the economy manifested by inflation and increase in unemployment, the turbulent political atmosphere characterized by the crackdown on opposition and a failed coup attempt, the anti-refugee global climate and further externalization and outsourcing policies by the EU and its member states as in the case of the EU-Turkey statement.

The Turkish economy recently experiences turbulent conditions. In August 2020, the Turkish Lira hit record low against the Euro. In April 2020, the unemployment rate reached 17,2% – a historical high. The weak performance of the economy has further triggered anti-migration sentiments. This situation went in parallel with the government promoting the return of up to 2 million refugees into proposed safe zones (see 4.2. Safe Zone).

Migrant Labor in Turkey

Large parts of the Turkish economy – 33% according to estimations from 2019[4] – are based on informal and flexible work, which is tolerated by the state as there are no effective measurements to tackle the informality in the labor market. Sectors like construction, agriculture, textile, and tourism are heavily dependent on informal labor.  As getting formal work permits is almost impossible, most of working migrants find themselves working informally. For many refugees, looking for work is a major reason for violating residency requirements and leaving the assigned city (see 3.1. Turkey’s Protection Regime). Language barriers, lack of knowledge about bureaucratic structures, inadaptable qualification, lack of official work permits, and the need to provide money for living costs and families are amongst the reason that foster the particular vulnerability of migrant workers in the (informal) labor market.[5] Migrant workers, especially Syrians, have created a pool of cheap labor[6]. While this depresses the wages of many workers even in relation to Turkish colleagues, it supports the prejudice of many Turks that cheap labor takes jobs away.

According to studies, Syrian refugees are entering the Turkish labor markets in three ways, a) in the set-up of own companies often in collaboration with domestic partners, b) as independent traders or artisans and c) as wage laborers. Informal methods, including relatives and intermediaries, are important tools to find a job. According to studies, low wages, long working hours, non-payments, and discrimination problems are often faced by Syrian refugees. Employment is common in the construction industry, agriculture, and factories – especially the textile sector. Studies from 2017 reveal a significant wage gap.[7] Still, unemployment remains a major problem. 

Child labor is widely spread in the Turkish economy, especially for refugee families, in order to sustain family life. In 2014, it is estimated that the number of children in employment was around 1 million, approximately 50% were working in the agricultural sector. Seasonal work is widespread, too. The exploitation of children in the harvest of hazelnuts is known as one of the worst forms of child labor.

The most dramatic consequences of poor working conditions, lack of state control, and entrepreneurial responsibility result in a high number of work-related death cases, also called work-related murders by Labor Unions in Turkey in order to stress the responsibility of the employer. According to Health and Safety Labor Watch-Turkey, in 2018, at least 108 migrant/refugee workers lost their lives. As the reporting remains dependent on coincidence and the fact that none of the deaths has been brought to justice or even covered by media, it is assumed that the real figures are much higher. Amongst the reasons that lead to this situation are the lack of organization of migrant workers as well as the outreach by labor unions. For example, in June 2019, five people died after a fire took place in Akpınar Textile’s factory in Çayırova district of Kocaeli. 3 of the victims were Syrian, and 1 was Afghan; in January 2019 five Syrian workers died in a fire of a furniture workshop in Ankara.

Migration Movements

Turkey is a country of mixed movements of emigration, transit and immigration. Although each of these three phenomena dominated different historical periods, none of which has ever been absent from the sophisticated mobility scene in Turkey.  

Workers from Turkey who have immigrated to western European countries, especially (west) Germany during the 1960s, 1970s and up until now, make the largest and the most known emigrated group from Turkey. This group is traditionally perceived as the nucleus around which much more sophisticated communities and individuals have emerged. In addition, asylum seekers from Turkey are probably the second largest group in this category. While asylum seekers from Turkey traditionally have ethnic and religious minority backgrounds (like Kurds and Alevis), most recent movements also included intellectuals and academics.[8]

The numbers of asylum applications by Turkish citizens usually reflect the political conditions in Turkey to a great extent. These numbers are higher especially during and after political turmoil like military coups and crackdowns on oppositions and different types of minorities. Since record numbers in aftermath of the 1980 military coup, numbers of Turkish asylum applications have peaked again after the 2016 military coup attempt.

Turkey’s Protection Regime

Because of its geographical location and its relative stability, Turkey has been a destination for people seeking protection from neighboring countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. While Turkey is a signatory of the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol, it applies a geographical restriction to it. Refugees who are not from European countries cannot obtain a refugee status and the attached rights in Turkey. The geographical limitation is upheld in Turkey’s first domestic law, Law No 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP), which has been regulating migration in the country since 2013. LFIP, which is deemed as EU-inspired, has long been in the making as a part of EU-Turkey accession negotiations to the EU and came to existence in 2013 triggered by the growing numbers of refugees, especially from Syria.[9] This situation led to selective, ad hoc, and country-specific policies by the Turkish authorities. While the presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey is officially regulated under “temporary protection” according to LFIP, a group based status which can be terminated or limited by a decision of the Presidency. Non-Syrian refugees from non-European countries like Iraq and Afghanistan can apply for international protection and can obtain a “conditional refugee status”. Both of these statuses are designed as a temporary solution only and fail to open long-term prospects for refugees in Turkey.[10] Due to difficulties e.g. in accessing registration, many refugees remain undocumented and thereby threatened by detention and deportation.[11]

In addition to refugees from neighboring countries, many people on the move in Turkey are coming from different African countries. The majority lives in Turkey undocumented. Turkish airlines-launched direct flights between Istanbul and several cities in the African continent facilitated such movements. Visa expiry and/or the extremely difficult-to-obtain work permits are among the main reasons for being undocumented. Most of those migrants are from Cameroon, the Gambia, Uganda, DRC, Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Somalia.[12] For only a tiny minority of African migrants, Turkey has been their destination and not just a transit country. Those are usually better off persons who involve in entrepreneurial works.[13] While there are no official numbers of African migrants living in Turkey, it is estimated that there are between 50,000 and 200,000 people from different African countries in the city of Istanbul[14]. Most of them are living in Istanbul and work in the informal sectors like the textile industry or as street hawkers. City’s neighborhoods like Kumkapi, Tarlabaşı and Dolapdere are the places where the African communities have established their social spaces and networks[15]. Anti-black racism and sexual harassment against blacks are widespread.[16]

Applicants for international protection are governed by the so-called “satellite city regime” and are supposed to register with the responsible authorities (Provincial Directorate for Migration Management, PDMM) in an assigned province. However, not all provinces are open for registration. Each PDMM is authorized to decide on its “opening” or “closure” for new registrations without public notification[17]. It is estimated that most of the major Turkish (border) cities are closed for new registrations. In case of closure, applicants are supposed to travel to the assigned city within 15 days. It is reported that applicants are left without the necessary documentation in order to travel to the assigned province which increases the risk of detention and deportation[18]. Further, problems are reported in obtaining the documents necessary for the application. Syrian refugees, who want to apply for temporary protection, are obliged to register with the PDMM, too and are facing similar problems[19].

Movement and residency of protection seekers and beneficiaries in Turkey are restricted. The satellite city regime is limiting the movement of applicants of international protection. Reporting instructions and travel restrictions have been introduced..[20] Only in August 2015, the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) did make use of the legal possibility to restrict and control the movement of Syrians in Turkey. In 2017, the possibility of introducing reporting obligations for beneficiaries has been activated by the DGMM. Failures to comply with the restrictions can lead to the application of a security code and detention.[21] While authorities did not enforce the obligation to stay in the assigned province strictly in the past, Istanbul and other bigger cities experienced massive interceptions and deportations due to residency issues in 2019.

Housing remains a particular problem for protection seekers and beneficiaries in Turkey. The number of Temporary Accommodation Centers for beneficiaries of temporary protection is steadily reduced, while at the same time detention capacity is increased, also with the support of the EU (see 4.2.1 Support in the field of border control and return). As of 27 February 2020, only 2% of the total of temporary protection beneficiaries were accommodated in a camp. The vast majority of beneficiaries of temporary protection is left to their own means in terms of housing. Lack of financial means, language barriers, and a lack of support are reportedly amongst the challenges faced by beneficiaries who are not accommodated in the camp structure (anymore).[22] This also accounts to applicants of international protection and beneficiaries of conditional refugee status. There is only one Reception and Accommodation Centre with 100 places dedicated to this group. As a rule, applicants and status holders need to secure their own accommodation.[23] Studies show that Syrian refugees are at the mercy of landlords' price expectations in the housing market and often live far above average rents. “Many families live in abject poverty, often in unsanitary, even dangerous, housing conditions.” [24]The housing situation is particularly alarming in Istanbul, where many people move to in the hope of finding a job.

Access to the labor market, although restricted by certain time limits as well as legal pre-request, is theoretically given to both groups. However, in practice, the number of work permits issued remains low. According to the latest available figures, in 2018, only 823 Afghans received a working permit. Although the total number of Syrian refugees with a work permit is higher, it refers only to a small percentage of the overall Syrian refugee population in Turkey[25]. In general, most applicants and beneficiaries of both categories face undeclared employment, labor exploitation, and substandard working conditions (see 2.1.).[26]

Detention & Deportation

Unlawful detention and deportations from Turkey have been continuously documented by Watchdogs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others.[27] The dismantling of democracy in Turkey also affects the protection system and further downscaled protection standards, especially in regard to protection against refoulement.

In October 2016, the Presidential Decree 676 widened the scope of deportations by law. According to the amendment, deportation decisions can be issued at any stage of the application for international protection or after protection was granted, in case of “membership in a terrorist organization, threat to public order or security”. While appeals against general deportation decision had an automatic suspensive effect, the groups listed have been exempt from this provision[28]. Only after a ruling by the Constitutional Court in 2019, the exemption was revoked.[29] The provision does not introduce a formal procedure for assessing the allegations. It is also not making a court decision necessary for triggering the deportation order.

A long list of restriction codes has been introduced. The Codes are issued by the Directorate General of Migration Management, DGMM. Neither the list nor the application is governed transparently.[30] NGOs report that people often find out about the fact that a restriction code was applied to them by coincidence. Deportation on public order, public security [restriction code G82] and public health grounds [restriction code Ç116] has been reportedly linked to security codes.[31] Further examples for restriction codes are: work permit-other activities [restriction code N99], Greece-Return [restriction code V89] or illness [restriction code G78].[32]

In summer 2019, authorities increased already heavy controls and intercepted primarily Syrian refugees reasoned with no registration in the city or informal labor. The operations were announced by the Governor of Istanbul – who is appointed by the President. The Governor ordered people without registration to leave the city till August – later October 2019 – however intense interceptions and deportations have been reported already earlier. According to the Governor, from July 2019 till the end of the year, almost 120,000 people were apprehended for an irregular stay in the city. While some were returned to their city of registration, others have been held in detention and were forced to agree to return “voluntarily” to Syria, others have been deported directly mainly to Idlib province-Syria.[33] In June 2019, civilians in Idlib experienced heavy attacks by the Assad regime, supported by Russia. Amnesty International documented strikes against hospitals, schools, and residential homes. Unfound interceptions have not been limited to Istanbul only, but also took place in other cities and are ongoing[34]. The intensive deportations followed the announcement by President Erdoğan, to start encouraging Syrian refugees to return.[35] He embedded this threat in a response to the growing hatred of foreigners among the public (see 4.2 Safe-Zone).

Following the EU’s example, Turkey is strengthening ties to third countries in order to ease returns. As an outcome of increasing efforts to establish deportation mechanisms with the Afghani government, Afghan officials arrived in Turkey in 2018 and provided travel documents that facilitate the return of Afghan nationals. In April 2018, the first charter deportation flight to Afghanistan departed from Turkey. According to the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, more than 20,000 Afghans have been deported between January and May 2019.[36]

The pressure on return is accompanied by the increasing detention capacity. Turkey maintains almost 30 official pre-removal detention facilities with a capacity of 20,000 and further unofficial detention sites.[37] The surge in the past years was financed with the support of the EU (see 4.3.1 Support in the field of border control and return).

Routes & Obstacles to reach Turkey

Border walls and more restrictive laws make it difficult to flee to Turkey. Although border crossings have never been shut down completely, border security measures introduced since 2015 have made it more difficult and more dangerous. In 2019, the largest group intercepted in the attempt to cross irregularly were Afghans.[38] Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International continuously document and condemn illegal and violent push backs of refugees to Syria and Iraq.[39] The documentation also covers the use of firearms.

764 km of the around 900 km long shared border between Turkey and Syria are fenced by a concrete wall. The project started in 2015 and was completed in June 2018. Further, visa regulations introduced in 2016 have applied restrictions to Syrians who arrive from third countries.

Turkey has constructed a 144 km border wall along its over 500 km long shared border with Iran.[40]

In 2017, President Erdoğan mentioned plans to build a border wall along its border to Iraq. However, no construction work has been reported so far.

It has been reported, that the Ministry of the Interior ordered instructions to bus drivers in the East of Turkey to make the transportation conditional on valid documents.[41] Amendments to the law in December 2019 place the accommodation of persons seeking protection without registration under penalty, regardless of whether this is done knowingly.[42] Increasing controls inside the country increase the risk of interception and detention for people seeking protection and are crossing Turkey. Refugee Rights organization in Turkey report that in order to avoid police checks inside Turkey, dangerous routs e.g. crossing Lake Van are being used. The most recent shipwreck on the lake was documented in July 2020, in which 60 casualties are feared.

Routes & Obstacles to reach the EU

Protection seekers who try to move onward to the European Union mainly use the international airports, the Eastern Mediterranean Route to Greece or cross the shared land border to Greece or Bulgaria. Also frequented but less common is the route to Cyprus, crossing the black sea to Romania or crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. In order to prevent crossings, surveillance and border protection measures have been beefed up on national and bloc level.

During the summer of migration 2015, the Eastern Mediterranean Route, from the Turkish West Coast to Greece’s Eastern Aegean Islands, was the main migratory route into the EU. While in 2015, almost 900,000 people reached the Eastern Aegean Islands, the number was reduced to less than 180,000 people in 2016 and only 42,000 in 2017. In 2019, almost 60,000 people reached the Aegean islands. The death toll fell from 803 casualties in 2015 and 434 casualties in 2016 to 71 casualties in 2019. In July 2020 Greece was prepared to install a floating barrier of 2.7 km length and 1.10 meters high in the Aegean Sea in order to prevent people on the move from reaching the island of Lesvos. Although the material has been bought already, the plans have been dropped by the Greek government.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, more than 58,000 refugees have been push backed by Greek authorities in the period between November 2018 and November 2019, most of which were from Pakistan, followed by Afghans, Somalis and Bangladeshis. According to Turkish officials, most of them have been deported back to their countries of origin, while Syrians (re-)entered the temporary protection status (see 3.2 Detention & Deportation). It is not possible to verify this information. However, pushbacks at the land and sea border are increasingly being reported.

People crossing the Mediterranean Sea to seek protection in the EU are often prevented from arriving and are being pushed to Turkish territorial waters in order for Turkey to intercept and return them. “The reports [received] refer to conduct including: Greek Coast Guard vessel maneuvers in high-speed near refugee boats; confiscation of fuel and/or destruction of engines; pointing of guns at the individuals on board refugee boats; towing of the boats towards Turkey, leaving people adrift on often unseaworthy and overcrowded dinghies and putting their lives at risk. In some cases, the reports received referred to the following conduct: ramming of the refugee boats; firing of shots near the refugee boats or in the air.” In the summer of 2020, the practices of people getting apprehended and pushed back to Turkey after reaching a Greek Island is increasingly reported. In several cases, the Greek coast guard picks up refugees, puts them on life rafts, drags them towards Turkey and leaves them to their fate. The Turkish Coast Guard documents the rescue/interceptions at sea extensively on their website. Observers comment that Turkey is welcoming this new role in order to bolster its human rights record by demonstrating that they are following their obligation under international law. Following the signature of the EU Turkey Deal, Turkey is heavily controlling its sea border and thus preventing arrivals in the EU.

Land arrivals in the EU departing from Turkey are crossing the border at the river Meriç (TR)/ Evros (GR)/ Maritsa (BG) to Greece or Bulgaria. In order to reach Greece, there is also the route via the Tharcain Sea to reach Alexandroupolis (GR). With the signature of the EU Turkey Deal, the importance of the land border increased. From 2016 to 2017, land crossings to Greece almost doubled to around 6,500 people. In 2019, almost 15,000 people reached the EU crossing the Turkish-Greek land border. However, already in 2011, the construction of a border fence was started along the 10 km stretch of the border between Kastanies (GR) and Nea Vyssa (GR) close to the Turkish border town Edirne, where the river is not creating a natural barrier and which was before a comparable safe pathway to the EU.

In response to the unilateral interruption of border controls and border openings by Turkey in March 2020, Athens announced that it would further extend the border fence and upgraded push back measures.[43]

The shared border of Turkey with Bulgaria is about 270 km long. 210 km of the border are secured by a fence, which is reported to be easily bypassed. It is difficult to estimate the total crossings, as most people on the move remain transit in Bulgaria and are avoiding any contact with the authorities. According to Bulgarian authorities, in 2018, more than 5,000 people have been hindered in crossing the border from Turkey, in the first ten months of 2018, more than 2,000 people have been intercepted in the attempt to cross the border. In contrast to the always tense relationship between Turkey and Greece, the relationship between Bulgaria and Turkey is, according to reports, friendly, which is also noticeable in border controls.

EU efforts in the prevention of cross-border movement from Turkey

The prevention of cross-border movement is of concern for various entities. Next to Turkish efforts to increase its border surveillance capacities, the EU is supporting its member states in order to prevent crossings.[44]

Frontex, now the EU’s Border Agency, signed the first Memorandum of Understanding with Turkey in May 2012 already. In February 2014, a cooperation plan followed. In 2016, a Liaison officer was deployed in Turkey and financial support mechanisms were established in order to bolster border control.

In the bordering country Greece, the first Frontex operation was deployed in 2011. As of May 2020, Frontex is active at the shared border with (a) two Rapid Border Intervention Teams, Evros 2020 and Aegean 2020 (both set up after the escalation at the shared border between Greece and Turkey in March 2020), (b) Flexible Operational Activities 2020 (Land) and the (c) Joint Operation Poseidon 2020 (Sea). More than 400 deployed border guards are involved in the listed operations.[45] In the framework of the listed operations among other vessels, helicopters, vehicles, drones, surveillance tools, and aerial surveillance aircrafts are deployed.[46] Even in regard to March 2020, when violence and dangers conduct by national coast guards as well as cases of non-rescue have been documented, Frontex recorded only one incident in the Aegean Sea, where human rights obligations might have been disregarded. The incident involves the refusal of a Danish crew in a Frontex mandate to follow the order by the Hellenic Coast Guard to conduct a push back. According to Frontex, the order was the result of a “misunderstanding” of the Operational Plan.

Frontex is supporting the deportation under the EU Turkey Deal (see 4.1. EU Turkey Deal).

At the Turkish border with Bulgaria, Frontex is present in the framework of a Joint Operation, too. Next to approximately 50 deployed border guards who are patrolling alongside their Bulgarian counterparts, the equipment made available by Frontex is of particular importance for Bulgaria.

In February 2016, the NATO decided in favor of operations in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece “to cut the lines of human trafficking and illegal migration”. In cooperation with Turkey, Greece and Frontex, NATO units are monitoring and surveilling. “NATO ships are providing real-time information to the coastguards and relevant national authorities of Greece and Turkey, as well as to Frontex”. There is evidence that push backs are occurring within the local area of Frontex/NATO operations and close to deployed units. In June 2020, the crew of the “Berlin”, deployed as leading-vessel within the Standing NATO mission, observed that a dinghy with people seeking protection was forced into Turkish territorial waters by Greek Coast Guards. They did not intervene.

The missions are providing intelligence to the coastguard in charge, as well as increasing the capacity of the various units which leads to an increase in interceptions and possible push and pull backs.

EU projects 

EU Turkey Deal 

The EU Turkey Deal refers to the press statement published by the European Council on 18th of March 2016 as „EU Turkey Statement“. It is a communication on a non-binding political agreement introduced after the summer of migration 2015 and is addressed to different political entities. As such it was never part of a legislative act in any European Parliament. It aims at stemming the flight of mainly Syrian refugees on the Eastern Mediterranean Route to the EU by increasing border controls, containment on the Greek Islands, and return to Turkey. In conjunction with the introduction of the “hotspot approach”, it had major effects on the Greek Asylum law, the situation of refugees and host communities on the eastern Aegean Islands (Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Kos, and Leros) and shaped political relation between Turkey and the EU, too. Further, the deal is referred to as a blueprint for similar migration deals with transit countries. Turkey's border closures with neighboring countries and the expansion of the construction of fixed border installations are referred to as being a domino-effect of the European externalization policy. 

The Statement is also known as “toxic deal“ or “dirty deal“ due to widespread criticism for lacking democratic legitimacy, downgrading standards of international protection, and the externalization of border controls and protection to a country that lacks essential human rights guarantees. Especially after the failed coup attempt 2016, the EU was criticized for not taking enough action against the authoritarian course in Turkey, which was linked to the fear of the deal being terminated by Turkey. Further, it has been criticized that the significant decrease of legal safeguards in the Turkish protection regime before and especially after the failed coup attempt have not been considered in the application of the safe third country/safe country of asylum concept in regard to Turkey. While human rights groups continuously advocated for the stop of the EU Turkey deal, EU leadership values the deal as a story of success as the number of refugees reaching the Aegean island significantly dropped  ̶  from 856,723 sea arrivals in 2015 to 29,718 sea arrivals in 2016, while the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey increased from 2,5 million registered Syrian refugees 2015 to almost 3 million at the end of 2016.[47]

The impact of the deal is primarily attributed to the Turkish border architecture and the deterrent effect of the hotspots. The deportations, technically a central point of the deal, have remained at a constantly low level and are generally considered a secondary aspect of the deal's impact, which could change quickly.

On the path to a toxic deal 

The deal is the preliminary culmination of increasing high level political negotiations of the EU and its member states with Turkey in 2015. From the EU’s perspective, the cooperation with Turkey is framed by increasing cooperation with third countries highlighted as being of “critical importance” e.g. in the EU Commission’s “European Agenda on Migration”. It is seen as part of the external dimension in the EU’s approach to “manage migration”. Due to its geographic position, Turkey is understood as a “pivotal partner”. Cooperation on return and readmission with third countries is emphasized as a/the key to “stem migration” and suggested to be enforced in a balanced approach with pressure and incentives.

Gerald Knaus, the founding chairmen of the think tank European Stability Initiative (ESI), is broadly referred to as the architect of the EU Turkey Deal. From autumn 2015, ESI with offices in Berlin, Brussels and Istanbul, published a series of papers in which “an agreement between the EU and Turkey” was proposed in order to “restore control of the EU’s external border while simultaneously addressing the vast humanitarian crisis”.

In October 2015, the EU Commission announced a first “Joint Action Plan“ with Turkey, which was welcomed by the EU Council the same day as a step of cooperation with third countries. The plan foreshadows elements of the later Deal. E.g. it already entailed the call for the implementation of existing readmission agreements by Turkey, the use of visa regulation for the purpose of managing migration, the call for increasing border controls by Turkey, and EU funding in support of refugee facilities in Turkey (€3 billion). The plan was activated on the 29th November 2015 during the EU Turkey Summit, along with various diplomatic assurances circulating around “re-energizing” the accession process of Turkey to the EU and increasing economical collaboration.

Additionally, in December 2015, the EU Commission recommended the introduction of a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme with Turkey to its member States; another element that was also involved in the Deal later on.

In January 2016, within the framework of the Joint Action Plan, Turkey introduced visa obligations for Syrians traveling to Turkey by air and sea and eased the access to the labor market for registered Syrian refugees in Turkey. The Commission started pathing the way for the promised €3 billion project “Facilities for Refugees in Turkey” with €2 billion from the member States and €1 billion EU funding. In regard to Turkey’s accession process, the opening of two further chapters was decided. 

As arrivals in Greece remained on a high-level few months after the Joint Action Plan came into effect, in February 2016, the Commission urged Turkey towards full and effective implementation of the Plan. In particular, the EU called for the implementation of Turkey’s bilateral readmission Agreement with Greece as well as a second readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey.

“The days of illegal migration to Europe are over” concluded Donald Tusk, then President of the European Council after a meeting with the then Turkish Prime Minister on 7th of March 2016 and announced that Turkey accepted increasing returns from Greece with a close link to fostering the so-called 1:1 mechanism: the assumption that for every Syrian readmitted to Turkey, another Syrian will be resettled to the EU. “With this game changing position in fact our objective is to discourage illegal migration to prevent human smugglers to help people who want to come to Europe through encouraging legal migration in a disciplined and regular manner”, Davutoğlu stated. Details on the agreement, which also foresaw additional funding for Refugee Facilities for Syrian in Turkey as well as the already targeted acceleration of accession negotiation and visa liberation for Turkish citizens, were announced to be worked out before the March meeting of the European Council.[48]

The meeting in early March was framed as an international Summit, chaired by the then EU’s Council President and in presence of the then EU’s Commission President as well as the EU heads of states, who met for an informal meeting afterward. 

On 16th of March 2016, the Commission published a communication to the Parliament, the European Council and the Council on the “Next operational Steps in EU-Turkey Cooperation in the Field of Migration” in which the “six principles” of the future cooperation were enclosed. The next day a two-day European Council took place during which EU leaders met with their Turkish counterparts and agreed to the EU Turkey Deal. 

Prior to the meeting, some action points agreed to were criticized as “immoral”, “dangerous” and “illegal” by human rights organization including the European Refugee Council ECRE.

The Deal

The Deal has the objective to “break the business model of the smugglers and to offer migrants an alternative to putting their lives at risk” and mirrors the Joint Action Plan in its basic composition. The EU is offering to strengthen political and economic ties as well as the allocation of financial compensation in an exchange for measurements to halt movement to Europe and return people in seek of protection from Greece to Turkey. It entails the following nine points:

Return from Greek islands: As “temporary and extraordinary measure” all people who seek protection in Europe by crossing from Turkey to Greek islands after 20th of March 2016 will be deported to Turkey “in full accordance with EU and international law”. The reference to a registration as well as admissibility and eligibility procedure paths the ground for the later established fast track border procedure in the EU hotspots on the Aegean islands. EU, Turkey and Greece are committed to agree on “any necessary bilateral agreement” in order to facilitate returns following the assessment. The costs of return operation will be covered by the EU.

1:1 mechanism on resettlement: “For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU taking into account the UN Vulnerability Criteria.“ Protection seekers who have not tried to reach Europe clandestinely will be prioritized. For EU member states, no additional resettlement pledges arise, as protection seekers resettled to the EU will be offset against the 2015 resettlement scheme. In case of further need, resettlement should continue in a voluntary manner. A maximum is established at 72,000 resettlement places.

Voluntary Humanitarian Admission: After the arrivals to the EU decreased substantially, admission from Turkey to EU member states is supposed to continue on a voluntary base.

Border control by Turkey on land and sea: Further increased cooperation with neighboring countries on border control to the aim of preventing new migratory routs is agreed upon.

Facility for Refugees in Turkey:  The EU will speed up the distribution of the allocated €3 billion and assures an additional €3 billion in support of Syrian refugees in Turkey up to the end of 2018 once the first tranche is used.

Provided that all remaining requirements are met, the visa requirements for Turkish citizens will be lifted at the latest by end of June 2016, which was never realized.

The Customs Union between Turkey and the EU will be upgraded.

Re-energising Turkey’s accession process the opening of Chapter 33 is planed within the first six months of 2016 based on a proposal put forward by the Commission in April 2016.

Safe Zones in Syria: In order to improve humanitarian conditions in Syria, the EU and Turkey will work together “in particular in certain areas near the Turkish border which would allow for the local population and refugees to live in areas which will be more safe“.

With the statements, both parties commit themselves to monitor the elements in a joint manner on monthly basis.

Turkey – a safe country for refugees? 

The entering into force of the EU Turkey Deal brought changes to the European Asylum regime in general and in particular to the Greek asylum system. Ever since the introduction of the deal, EU and Greek authorities geared towards increasing deportation to Turkey and the “full implementation of the EU Turkey Statement” became a lasting political mantra.[49]

Most of the protection seekers who arrive on the Greek island after the coming into effect of the Deal are foreseen to be returned to Turkey following the examination of their claim under admissibility criteria in view of the applicability of the concepts of “safe third country” and “first country of asylum”. While there have been multiple reforms of the Greek asylum law till today, the EU Turkey Deal as such was not transported into Greek law, neither was Turkey designated as a safe third country nor was a methodology introduced to assess whether Turkey can be considered safe in individual cases.

The implementation of returns is instead facilitated by “undisclosed non-public policy letters, which all actors involved – EASO, Greek Asylum Service and the Appeals Committees – used as the basis to legitimate their decision to declare Turkey safe for all Syrian, who arrive in Greece after 20 March 2016.” Though the letters were referred to in asylum-seekers files, they were not publicly available until October 2016.

Next to assurances by the Commission, two letters were sent from Turkish officials to its European counterparts. The letters are of short nature and entail the assurance that Syrian and non-Syrian protection seekers who had a protection status in Turkey or crossed the Aegean Sea via Turkey will be taken back by Turkey and will have access to a protection status according to the national framework.

The governmental documents were accompanied by the correspondence of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) dated May and June 2016, which also serves as the cornerstone of the assessment of Turkey as “safe third country” in particular for Syrian protection seekers. Refugee Support Aegean/PRO ASYL stress that though a clear position is not mentioned “the letter (by UNHCR) obviously allows for an interpretation in favour of considering Turkey as a ‘safe third country’”. The organisations highlight the lack of critical assessment of major deficiencies in the Turkish protection system and the recitation of diplomatic assurances without assessing its credibility.

In regard to UNHCR’s ability to monitor the situation of protection seeker who returned in the scope of the Deal, in the letter dated 9th June 2016, UNHCR admitted that it was not possible for them to monitor the condition of the return of the first group of Syrians and thus cannot assure if they had access to temporary protection in Turkey. Still, this was no reason for UNHCR to add additional information on the situation of protection seeker in Turkey or their monitoring ability.

Only in December 2016, in a third letter, UNHCR addressed the Greek Asylum service another time, compromised the conclusion drawn from the earlier letters and stated that there was a lack of access to protection seekers who returned to Turkey under the Deal and that UNHCR cannot verify their condition and status. However, this important shift came too late to change the governing opinion. “Considering that evidence presented in UNHCR’s initial letters has been used to pave the way for forcible returns of asylum seekers to Turkey under the deal, the Agency’s delays in providing updated information proved determinant”.

In the leading decision of Greek’s highest court, the Council of State, regarding the question if Turkey can be considered a “safe third country” for Syrians taken in September 2017, the Court ruled against the appeals by Syrian protection seekers and in favour of the EU Turkey Deal. Though at the time of the ruling the inefficient Turkish protection regime was already further weakened, a reconsideration did not take place. An appeal against the decision is pending at the European Court of Human Rights.

Figures and State of Play

In its fifth year, the deal, which was introduced as a temporary measure, is still in force. Its most prominent tool, deportations, has not been carried out since the political crisis between Greece and Turkey in March 2020 which was followed by measurements to curb the Corona pandemic.

While Turkey and the EU committed monitoring the elements of the Deal in a monthly manner, it should be noted that the most recent publicly available report by the Commission on Progress made in the implementation of the Deal dates September 2017. The German Government confirmed in 2019, that it does not have particular knowledge about the situation of refugees returned under the deal and refers to the fifth progress report by the Commission, dated March 2017. Also, UNHCR admitted that it has no secure access to returnees under the Deal. The level of information on the situation of refugees returned under the EU Turkey deal is therefore very weak.

Between April 2016 and March 2020, 2,140 protection seekers have been returned from Greece to Turkey under the Deal, the majority of which came from Pakistan, followed by Syria and Algeria. While in the first year of the Deal 801 protection seekers have been removed, the number falls ever since to 195 returns in 2019. Reviewing returns between March 2019 and March 2020, 45% of the applicants have been returned after a 2nd or 1st instance decision, while 44% returned not willing to apply for asylum (anymore), withdraw their asylum claim or never claimed asylum. While the first group is directly linked to the procedural changes following the introduction of the Deal, the second group can be explained due to the living conditions, often referred to as inhuman, and the lack of perspective refugees experience in the EU Hotspots on the Greek islands. In this regard, it should be noted that the number of people who agree to return “voluntary” to their country of origin with support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is significantly higher than the number of returns under the Deal.

Deportationsare carried out via ferry and plane. It has been reported that most Syrians are brought to Adana by plane while other nationalities are deported by ferry to Dikili. Frontex is playing a central role in operating the deportations. Based on observations of researchers, it has been found that private ferry companies are subcontracted by Frontex to “support law enforcement operational activities”: TurYol, Jalem Tur and Sunrise Lines.

Due to the Corona Pandemic, all resettlement efforts from Turkey were suspended in spring 2020. In regard to the 1:1 mechanism introduced with the EU Turkey Deal, 26,135 Syrian refugees have been resettled until March 2020, the majority (9,501) to Germany. Access to the 1:1 resettlement scheme is depending on the region and is limited to Syrians only.[50]

Incentives that were promised to Turkey in 2016 have never been implemented and seem far off in 2020: Visa liberations, upgrade of the Customs Union, and re-energizing the accession procedure of Turkey to the EU seem to be very far away. The deal also includes the creation of a security zone, which is being pursued by  Erdoğan but not yet by the EU.

Since its implementation, Turkey constantly uses the EU Turkey Deal as a political bargaining chip and uphold its perspective, that the EU did not meet its promises. This escalated in March 2020, when Turkey announced that it would no longer hold people back from crossing the border to Greece. According to various reports, even busses have been commissioned by the Turkish government to bring people to the border. Following, the border between the neighbouring countries has been further militarized by Greece and the EU in the fear of experiencing an influx in arrival. The decision by Turkey came after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib, Syria. Analysts say that the political interests behind Turkey’s border-opening were two-folded. First of all, public attention was distracted from the military loss and the growing rejection of migrants was reinforced. Moreover, there is a widespread belief that Erdoğan wanted to win EU support for the security zone in Syria.

The Safe Zone

In his talk to the UN general assembly in September 2019, president Erdoğan proposed the creation of a safe zone inside Syria to “resettle” up to two million Syrian refugees. Such zones are also foreseen by the EU Turkey Deal, as a joined effort in order to enable returns. Erdoğan’s call came amid Turkey’s preparations for carrying out an offensive inside Syria, later known as Peace Spring operation and within intense interception and deportation of Syrian refugees (see above). By November 2019, Turkey has seized the area between Tell Abiad and Ras al Ain/Sere Kaniye countryside (120 km) with a depth of around 30 km inside the Syrian territories. The operation came after the rise of populist sentiments against Syria refugees in Turkey and after the defeat of the ruling AKP in the local elections of March 2019. This move has been criticized as it is potentially illegal, further destabilizing the region, and could be resulted in a form of ethnic cleansing.[51] Moreover, previous experiences of establishing safe zones in other parts of the world like Bosnia, Iraq, and Rwanda show that such designated zones don’t only fail to protect civilians but also could potentially end up with tragedies.[52] Today, the areas of the so-called, Peace Spring, are controlled by Turkey’s Syrian proxies and proved to be one of the least safe areas inside Syria.[53] The operation so far failed to relocate even small numbers of refugees into these areas.

EU Facilities for Refugees in Turkey

In the framework of the EU Turkey Action Plan and the EU Turkey Deal, the EU committed to assist Turkey with in total €6 billion to meet the needs of refugees and host communities particularly in the field of humanitarian assistance, education, and health care. The funds are managed by The Steering Committee that provides guidance on priorities, action taken, and money allocated. The overall amount has been distributed within two tranches, as of July 2020 €4.7 billion have been contracted and almost €3.7 billion disbursed. The funding was likewise shared by contributions from the EU budget and its member states.

The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is a key social assistance program for refugees in Turkey and was/is funded under the Program. It is a cash-card system providing cash for vulnerable refugees living outside refugee camps. Per family member, €18 are loaded as a monthly allowance to the cash card. It’s targeting families and vulnerable asylum seekers who are not formally employed. ESSN is inter alia accessible for single females; elderlies over 60 with no adults in the family; families with 3 or more children. According to figures provided by EU Commission, as of December 2019, 1.7 million protection seekers benefited from the program. Almost 90% of the beneficiaries are Syrian.[54]

Further programs are: Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE); PIKTES “to increase integration and access to high-quality education for Syrian children”; SIHHAT a project “to facilitate specialized support services such as mental health and psychosocial support, physical therapy and rehabilitation and the integration of protection services within the Migrant Health Centres” and various construction projects (not exhaustive enumeration).[55]

Support in the field of border control and return

Until the end of 2019, funding under the framework of EU Facilities for Refugees in Turkey, has been provided for border control measurements, too, particularly in the field of border control, return, and detention.

The Turkish Coast Guards have been supported by training and equipment (six life-boats). Further return operations and operations in removal centres have been financed. “The Facility has covered the costs incurred in the management of returns (transportation, hosting) of 369 Syrians and 1 605 non-Syrians, as well as the construction of a removal centre for 750 people. (…) The project also financed the salaries of 186 personnel to provide services for migrants in 21 removal centres, including psychologists (24), social workers (17), interpreters (54), food engineers (15), technicians (43) and drivers (33).”[56] The removal centre which has been supported is in the Çankırı province. In May 2019, 2,500 people have been detained inside the EU funded removal centre.[57] According to the EU Commission, „the funding of removal centre also remains a critical part this support, due to the high number of refugees that continue to be apprehended in Turkey. These centres provide humanitarian assistance and care to irregular migrants (…)“. In October 2019, the Global detention project summarizes, „Numerous observers have reported on the horrific conditions in any Turkish detention centres, in addition to persistent overcrowding, lack of medical care, and failure to provide detainees access to legal assistance“. The report further reveals that six facilities, which have been planned and initially supported as reception facilities by the EU were later used as removal/detention centre. Already in 2015, Amnesty International reported about unlawful and extensive detention and deportation practice in Turkey. Further, they found evidence, that the detention centre were financed by the EU.[58]

NGOs and other sectors

The role of non-governmental organizations has particularly been visible since 2011. The ambiguous and uncertain approach by the Turkish government towards refugees[59], at least between 2011 and 2015, has produced many areas where NGOs assumed coordination, humanitarian assistance and especially education roles.[60] Not all NGOs, however, enjoy level playing fields when it comes to assuming such roles. Personal and network relations with government are somehow determinant in shaping the scene of NGOs working on migration.[61] Another important factor is access to international funds, which fundamentally shape and design the NGOs’ work in Turkey. 

While, it is hard to say which economic sectors or actors benefit from the current (forced) migration scene in Turkey, not least because of the absence of accessible relevant data. Specific migration-related policies, however, suggest that they may have been shaped by the economic interests of some sectors. The safe zone project for example, where the Turkish government was aiming to relocate up to one million Syrian refugees back into Syria, could have benefited the construction sector “that is dominated by the ruling [AKP] party’s cronies.” Other sectors like academia[62] and NGOs[63] have excessively proliferated benefiting from the grown Turkey’s migration profile. The abundancy of short term and fragmented financial resources from international and European bodies have not necessarily improved the lives of migrants but rather the careers of those working in Academia and NGO sectors.

Since the implementation of the EU Turkey Deal and following the coup attempt 2016, NGOs, solidarity networks as well as human rights lawyers are subject to the authoritarian course of now-president Erdoğan, too. “The space for civil society has dramatically shrunk and repression against human rights defender (HRD) has significantly increased (…). HRDs, journalists, cultural workers, academics and anyone promoting and defending the rights of women and LGBTI+ people, the Kurdish community, religious and cultural minorities and workers undergo various forms of reprisal, discrimination, and attacks, including threats, intimidation, stigmatization, judicial harassment, prolonged arbitrary detention and travel bans.“ Self-censorship and down-sizing of activities are consequences of the climate of fear. Human Rights Organisation advocating for refugee rights are very careful and often refrain from critical comments or reports and are reluctant to travel in particular areas. This has a negative outcome for people in need of support as well as on the quality and diversity of monitoring reports from Turkey. The level of updated information and critical reports on the conditions for refugees is very limited. Particularly research conducted from 2014 to 2016 is focusing on the conditions of Syrian refugees, which creates an ever big. Especially studies conducted in 2014-2016 focus on the situation of Syrian refugees, which worsens the information base about the situation of other groups in contrast to Syrians. This is also visible in this report.

Migration statistics (table)

Label Details Syrian refugees under Temporary Protection 3.579.318 refugees as of May 2020 Sheltered Syrian refugees (in camps) 63.241 refugees as of May 2020 Syrian refugees resettled to 3rd countries 16.285 refugees between 2014 and 2019 Application for “international protection/conditional refugees” by Afghanistan nationals 35.042 applicants as of 2020 Application for “international protection/conditional refugees” by Iraq nationals 15.532 applicants as of 2020 Application for “international protection/conditional refugees” by Iran nationals 3.558 applicants as of 2020 Application for “international protection/conditional refugees” by other nationals 2.285 applicants as of 2020


  1. As of March 2019, Turkish Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs quoted by German Federal Foreign Office, 14.06 2019.

  2. Halil Karaveli, 2018. Why Turkey is Authoritarian: Right-Wing Rule from Atatürk to Erdogan, Pluto Press.

  3. Castle, Stephen. 2006. EU freezes talks on Turkey membership. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-freezes-talks-on-turkey-membership-428085.html

    see also: Turkey sees bleak future for EU accession talks in 2012. Today’s Zaman https://web.archive.org/web/20150715025052/http://www.todayszaman.com/news-267358-turkey-sees-bleak-future-for-eu-accession-talks-in-2012.html

    see also: The ins and outs. 2007.  The Economist, Special report. https://www.economist.com/special-report/2007/03/17/the-ins-and-outs.

  4. M. Murat ErdoĞan, Syrische Flüchtlinge in der Türkei, September 2019, p. 17.

  5. Tolga Tören, Syrian Refugees in the Turkish Labour Market, July 2018, p. 27.

  6. Tolga Tören, Syrian Refugees in the Turkish Labour Market, July 2018, p. 51.

  7. Tolga Tören, Syrian Refugees in the Turkish Labour Market, July 2018, p. 27ff.

  8. Türkmen, Gülay. 2019. “But you don’t look Turkish!”: The Changing Face of Turkish Immigration to Germany.

  9. As of 29.05.2020, there are 3.580 million Syrian refugees under Temporary Protection. See: Republic of Turkey Ministry of the Interior Directorate General of Migration Management, Temporary Protection by the date of 29.05.2020, online available: https://bit.ly/2XFLKS8.

  10. NOAS, Seeking Asylum in Turkey, p. 10ff., December 2018.

  11. In 2020 there have been around 35000 applications by for “international protection/conditional refugee status. Additionally 200.000 Afghans are considered as “irregular migrants.” See: Irregular Migrants, Directorate General of Migration Management, 2019, online available: https://en.goc.gov.tr/irregular-migration.

  12. Erdem Şahin, Aksaray’ın Adı Da Dili de Rengi de Değişti, Haber Turk (blog), 2015; Doğuş Şimşek and Yusuf Sayman, Doğuş Şimşek and Yusuf Sayman on African migrants in Istanbul, Turkey Book Talk, 2019.

  13. Mahir Şaul, A Different ‘Kargo’: Sub-Saharan Migrants In Istanbul And African Commerce, Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development 43, no. 1/2/3 (2014): 143–203; Şimşek and Sayman, Doğuş Şimşek and Yusuf Sayman on African migrants in Istanbul.

  14. Ahmet Külsoy, Stuck in Istanbul, African Migrants Suffer Mistreatment, Ahval (blog), 2019.

  15. Şimşek and Sayman, Doğuş Şimşek and Yusuf Sayman on African migrants in Istanbul.

  16. Michael Kaplan, “Going Cold Turkey: African Migrants in Istanbul See Hopes Turn Sour,” The New Humanitarian (blog), 2015; Fatih Polat, “‘Çabuk Çabuk Işinde Çalışıyorum,’” Evrensel, 2018; Külsoy, “Stuck in Istanbul, African Migrants Suffer Mistreatment”; Şimşek and Sayman, Doğuş Şimşek and Yusuf Sayman on African migrants in Istanbul.

  17. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 69.

  18. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 15, 33.

  19. AIDA, Country Report Turkey. 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 128.

  20. Article 82 LFIP; AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 70; 116.

  21. Article 33 TPR; AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 139.

  22. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 18.

  23. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 71.

  24. Ayhan Kaya, Respond Turkey in ACCORD, Turkey. COI Compilation, August 2020, p. 266f.

  25. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 147f.

  26. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 75.

  27. Amnesty International, Turkey: Halt Illegal Deportation of People To Syria And Ensure Their Safety, 29.04.2020.

  28. NOAS, Seeking Asylum in Turkey, 2018, p. 24.

  29. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 16.

  30. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 8.

  31. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 26f.

  32. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 8.

  33. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 14., p. 140.

  34. Amnesty International, Turkey: Halt Illegal Deportation of People To Syria And Ensure Their Safety, 29.04.2020.

  35. Amnesty International. Sent to a War Zone, October 2019, p. 9.

  36. Daily Sabah, Influx and deportation of illegal Afghan migrants on the rise, 27.05.2019.

  37. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 95.

  38. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 127.

  39. Amnesty International (AI), Europe’s Gatekepper: Unlawful Detention and Deportation of Refugees from Turkey, 16.12.2015, online available: https://bit.ly/2UEMmWn; AI, Turkey: Illegal mass returns of Syrian refugees exposes fatal flaws in EU-Turkey Deal, 01.04.2016, online available: https://bit.ly/3hlVcSF; AI, Refugees at heightened risk of refoulement under Turkey’s State of Emergency, 22.09.2017, online available: https://bit.ly/37yqNMf; AI, Turkey: Sent to a War Zone, 25.10.2019, https://bit.ly/3dUVdux.

  40. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 25.

  41. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 25.

  42. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 70.

  43. Deutsche Welle, Greece, Turkey in border dispute after alleged island occupation, 15.05.2020, online available: https://bit.ly/3hE5Jb6.

    see also: Greek villagers enlisted to catch migrants at Turkey border.


  44. Antwort der Bundesregierung, Einsatz der NATO gegen profitorientierte Fluchthelfer in der Ägäis und Verbringung aller aufgegriffenen Geflüchteten in die Türkei, 27.04.2016, online available: https://bit.ly/39sEld2.

  45. Written Answer by Fabrice Leggeri, subject: Question for written answer E-001650/2020: Frontex operations in Greece, 04.05.2020, online available: https://bit.ly/3f22rfV. Within the count of 400 are 71 Frontex-Team-Members who are deployed within the Joint Flexible Operational implemented at the Greek-Turkish, the Greek-North Macedonian and the Greek-Albanian border. 

  46. Deutscher Bundestag, Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage: Aussetzung und Ausbau von Frontex-Missionen, 26.06.2020, online available: https://bit.ly/2Bw08UK.

  47. UNHCR, Mediterranean Situation: Aegan, 2020, online available: https://bit.ly/2MYJrTS; UNHCR, Syria Regional Refugee Response, 2020, online available: https://bit.ly/3hk6jvj.

  48. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 16.

  49. Amnesty International. Sent to a War Zone, October 2019, p. 9.

  50. AIDA Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 141.

  51. See Ní Ghráinne, B. 2020. SAFE ZONES AND THE INTERNAL PROTECTION ALTERNATIVE. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 69(2), 335-364. doi:10.1017/S0020589320000019.

  52. Lauren Wolfe, 2017. The safe zones fallacy. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/safe-zones-rwanda-syria-bosnia-a7666021.html; see also: Alan Crosby, 2017, The 'Very Bad History' Of Safe Zones. https://www.rferl.org/a/syria-safe-zone-explainer-srebrenica/28468420.html.

  53. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Second blast in a few days. https://www.syriahr.com/en/180405/ ; see also: Security chaos in “Peace Spring” areas https://www.syriahr.com/en/177110/ ; as well as Explosion in Syrian town on Turkish border kills 13 https://www.euronews.com/2019/11/02/explosion-in-syrian-town-on-turkish-border-kills-13.

  54. AIDA, Country Report Turkey: 2019 Update, April 2020, p. 155f.

  55. EU Commission, Fourth Annual Report on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, online available: https://bit.ly/3b5GlZw.

  56. EU Commission, Fourth Annual Report on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, online available: https://bit.ly/3b5GlZw, p. 13.

  57. EU Commission, The Facility for Refugees in Turkey, May 2020, online available: https://bit.ly/3ju5Bfj, p. 35.

  58. Amnesty International, Europe’s Gatekeeper, December 2015, p.8f.

  59. Fulya Memisoglu and Asli Ilgit, Syrian Refugees in Turkey: Multifaceted Challenges, Diverse Players and Ambiguous Policies, Mediterranean Politics 22, no. 3 (July 3, 2017): 317–38, https://doi.org/10.1080/13629395.2016.1189479.

  60. Aslıhan Tezel Mccarthy, Non-State Actors and Education as a Humanitarian Response: Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Education for Syrian Refugees in Turkey, Journal of International Humanitarian Action 2, no. 1 (December 2017): 13, https://doi.org/10.1186/s41018-017-0028-x.

  61. Didem Danış and Dilara Nazlı, “A Faithful Alliance Between the Civil Society and the State: Actors and Mechanisms of Accommodating Syrian Refugees in Istanbul,” International Migration 57, no. 2 (April 2019): 143–57, https://doi.org/10.1111/imig.12495.

  62. Maissam Nimer, “Reflections on the Political Economy in Forced Migration Research from a ‘Global South’ Perspective,” The Sociological Review (blog), 2019, https://bit.ly/2Xdr5o3.

  63. Ulas Sunata and Salih Tosun, “Assessing the Civil Society’s Role in Refugee Integration in Turkey: NGO-R as a New Typology” 0, no. 0 (2018), https://sci-hub.se/10.1093/jrs/fey047.

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