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Situation of Refugees and Migrants

I. General information


Compared to approximately 2.4 million asylum seekers who have come to Europe since the EU-Turkey deal came into effect in March 2016 until the end of 2018 (including those whose asylum applications were rejected),[1] by the end of 2018 there had already been over 4 million registered asylum seekers and temporarily protected persons in Turkey,[2] which is almost twice as many. Of these, less than 10% stay in camps.[3] The EU-Turkey deal transformed Turkey from being a transit country for refugees on route to Europe, to one of the world’s biggest hosts of a refugee populations. Turkey's classification as a safe third country is based largely on its Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP), a notorious piece of legislation introduced in 2013[4] and widely criticized for its numerous legal and procedural shortcomings.[5]

a. Lack of legal protection by the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP)

The LFIP fails to satisfy basic needs. The possibility of applying for social assistance is severely limited and provisions are irregular and insufficient to meet people's basic needs. The law does not provide accommodation or financial support.[6] At the same time, a work permit can only be applied for six months after registration and only under certain circumstances, which exacerbates economic constraints.[7] In addition, both refugees and those under temporary protection are severely restricted in their freedom of movement for the entire duration of their stay in Turkey by geographical limitations (i.e. a right of abode only in the assigned region; so-called ‘satellite cities’).[8] In the course of the distribution of refugees, which is primarily carried out according to the respective capacities of the satellite cities and not according to humanitarian criteria, families are torn apart. In addition, people who are unable to find work in their assigned region are forced to leave it and as a result are driven into illegality and are accordingly cut off from any state support.[9] While the duration of the granting of international protection is subject to the decision-making power of the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), which generally goes hand in hand with legal uncertainty,[10] temporary protection is even more uncertain. Persons of specific nationalities, such as Syrians* (about 3.5 million in Turkey), are not entitled to an individual examination of their application for international protection. People who fall into this category live in constant fear of arbitrary deportation to their country of origin.[11]  Such treatment as a "guest" [12] makes it virtually impossible to build a new life.


b. Poor implementation of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP)

In addition, most people do not experience the protection provided by the LFIP, as the guaranteed rights are not granted to them in many respects. The DGMM is still in the process of developing the necessary expertise and modalities to carry out its tasks.[13] Since September 2018, UNHCR is no longer operating in registration and other fields of activity, as their responsibilities have been transferred to the DGMM. Since then, no further registrations have been carried out.[14] Lack of access to relevant legal information and support [15] further complicates this situation. Additional difficulties arise from marginalisation due to the difficult financial and housing situation, which means that the majority of the refugees live far from town centers, hospitals, education and other public facilities; [16] access to which is already restricted by language barriers.[17]


II. Women*


About half of all refugees and migrants* (including 77% of all Syrian refugees) are women*, [18] who are particularly marginalized and discriminated against because of their gender. Their daily lives are marked by particular hardship, enormous challenges, and responsibility.


a. Women* as sole bearers of responsibility* in the family

Many female* refugees in Turkey bear sole responsibility for themselves and their families for the first time after losing their husbands, fathers, brothers or sons in the war. For many women* who had previously assumed responsibility predominantly within the domestic sphere, this change represents a dramatic change in their lives. When they arrive in Turkey, they are suddenly confronted with unfamiliar tasks and responsibilities such as administrative and economic responsibility. The perception of these tasks is further complicated by challenges such as unknown social rules, institutional functioning, and foreign language.


b. Economic plight and lack of access to labor markets

Another issue is the economic plight of refugees*. While basic services are practically non-existent, most women have no access to the labor market due to a lack of prior training with the necessary skills.[19] The few remaining possibilities for economic security include working in illegal jobs or marrying as a second wife, both associated with high risks of discrimination, humiliation, and gender-specific violence.[20] 

The constant concerns about the present and future situation as well as the permanent legal, economic, and social insecurity are decisive causes of the inability of women to act*; this is further aggravated by the burdens of trauma and loss experienced from the war. Without social, psychological, and legal support, women* are denied the necessary means to overcome their current hurdles and regain strength to work towards a new, more positive future.


III. Insufficient support and civil society tensions


The institutional shortcomings are compounded by the fact that large sections of the indigenous population have to contend with similar problems in many respects, particularly those of an economic nature. As a result, capacities for civic engagement are low and the correspondingly few organizations are far from being in a position to meet this demand.[21]  Meanwhile, tensions between local people and refugees are continuously increasing.[22]


[1]; [2] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2018, p .9, p. 17.; [3] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 132; p. 67.; [4] Esra Dardağan Kibar, An Overview and Discussion of the New Turkish Law on Foreigners and International Protection, p. 1.;; [5] Vgl. Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 25, p. 98.; [6] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 66, 68, 121.;; Article 95(1) LFIP.; UNHCR, Turkey Factsheet, October 2017, available at:; [7] Articles 6-7 Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection.; Article 5(1) Regulation on Work Permit for Foreigners under Temporary Protection.; [8]Article 82(1) LFIP; Article 110(4) LFIP Implementing Regulation.; [9] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 59.; [10] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 98.; [11] Art. 16; Art. 11 Temporary Protection Regulation (TPR).; Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 112-113, 125.; [12] Before the Temporary Protection Regulation (TPR) came into force, persons concerned were called “guests”: Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 108.; [13] Information provided by Mülteci-Der, December 2017; Bodrum Women’s Solidarity Association, December 2017.; [14] Without a valid registration-document, a persons‘ residing in Turkey is illegal. Hence, unregistered persons are excluded from all governmental services (education, health, protection, etc.) and frequently will be unlawfully arrested. Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 59.; [15] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 55.; [16] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 70.; [17] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 79.; [18] Strategies of Resistance of Syrian Female Refugees in Şanlıurfa, Rejane Herwig, 01.2018; [19] Refugees International, Legal employment still inaccessible for refugees in Turkey, December 2017, 5, 11-12.; [20] Papatya Bostancı, ‘“Çalışanı Meşgul Etmeyin”: Merdivenaltı Tekstil Atölyelerinde Mülteci Kadın Olmak’, 30 September 2017, available in Turkish at:; [21] Asylum Information Database (AIDA), Country Report: Turkey, Update 2017, p. 109.;[22] tag-groesser/20918624.html

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* Refers to any person who identifies as female.

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