Turkey Context

The large-scale displacement from Syria into Turkey took place in the midst of a national, migratory-policy making process. The 2013 Law on Foreigners and International Protection is Turkey’s first asylum law and first temporary protection law, introducing a rights-based approach to Turkey’s migratory public policy system. The Law also provides for the establishment of a specialized civilian institution, the General Directorate for Migration Management (DGMM) under the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to manage international protection and migration-related matters. This new migratory policy framework was both influenced by the Syrian migratory influx to Turkey and a reflection of Turkey’s evolving migratory identity for last 15 years.

Since the 1960s, Turkey was a recognized as an emigration country to Western Europe. In 2015, Turkey also became home to the largest refugee population in the world. As of May 2019, the number of Syrians under temporary protection had crossed 3.6 million (1,056,957 Men, 833,594 Women, 891,828 Boys, 809,335 Girls; 3RP Turkey Country Chapter 2019-2020).Over 96 per cent reside among the host community in urban, peri-urban and rural areas.

The majority of the Syrians under temporary protection live in cities in the South East of Turkey. In these cities, the ratio of the Syrian population to that of host communities is higher than 15% (DG of Migration Management, TURKSTAT, 2017).

Populations have either reached or exceeded 2023 population projections. However, large numbers of Syrians under temporary protection have moved to other parts of Turkey. It is estimated that over 500,000 refugees are living in Istanbul making it the largest refugee hosting city in Turkey. Substantial populations are also found in Izmir, Ankara and other large cities in Turkey. In addition to that, Turkey hosts over 400,000 asylum seekers from countries other than Syria.

For municipalities hosting a large number of Syrians, the situation has resulted in increasing commodity prices, an unprecedented pressure on municipal services such as health, education and social services, water and electricity supply, waste management and fire-fighting services, as well as on recreational areas and public spaces. Recent legislative changes have also expanded the mandate of Metropolitan municipalities such as Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, and Hatay to cover rural areas in addition to the urban areas that they already served. So, for these three metropolitan municipalities, the Syrian population has come on top of the rural population that they have started to serve only recently.

As a result, social cohesion in hosting municipalities is strained and instances of intercommunal violence between host communities and Syrian refugees increased threefold in the second half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. The potential for anti-refugee violence is highest in the metropolitan areas of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir where host communities see Syrians as culturally different and perceive them as competing for jobs and receiving preferential access to public services and assistance.

Turkey is on the other hand an upper middle-income country characterized by significant territorial socio-economic development disparities, with in particularly a significant development gap between the eastern and the western regions of Turkey. 32.5% of those who live below the 50% of median household income live in Southeast Anatolia. Labor force participation rates demonstrate a significant variability, being as low as 38% in some regions and higher than 60% in some others. This is notably explained by the important variation of the labour force participation rate for women, which on average is the lowest in Turkey among OECD countries. There are also severe socioeconomic, regional, rural-urban and gender-based disparities in educational attainment, decent jobs, household income, infrastructure and services.

Attempts to eliminate regional disparities in Turkey trace back to the mid-1960s through the initiation of the national development plans focused on a balanced regional development. Since then, sectoral investment schemes and infrastructural investments have turned out to be the major public policies addressing regional development in Turkey.

Response of Turkey

Turkey has consistently stood out for its strong national ownership and leadership in its response to the Syria crisis, with partners playing a support role to the Government of Turkey within the established national asylum framework. Turkey continues to demonstrate its capacity to receive and process admissions effectively and the temporary protection Regulation provides Syrians access to national systems such as health, education, employment and social services (The Temporary Protection Regulation was prepared on the basis of Article 91 in the Law No. 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection).

Municipalities and local partners such as local and Regional Development Agencies have been at the forefront of the response to the refugees and contributed significantly to the institutionalization and localization of regional development in Turkey.

Turkey continues to receive substantial support from the international community amongst others through the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP). For 2018, over 83% of the 1,69 billion USD appeal has been received. Support to municipalities feature heavily in the response plan, which is increasingly translated into practice. Nearly 50mUSD worth of support has been provided by 3RP partners towards municipalities since 2014.  In 2017, municipal support to waste management, waste water treatment, and fire-fighting has benefitted more than 477,000 Syrians under Temporary Protection and host community members. A total of 66,867 Syrians and host community members (of which around 55 per cent were women) benefited directly from livelihoods support in 2018.