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The Case of Turkey

Because of the geographic position of Turkey, the country has a longstanding history in international migration with varying scope and magnitude of migratory movements. Turkey has experienced a transformation in its migration pattern since the Republic was established. Different types of state ideology, socio-economic conditions, but also developments in neighboring countries influenced the migration patterns of Turkey that always had been part of the European migration dynamics.

The migration corridor between Turkey and the EU differentiated, and according to estimations of Turkish Foreign Affairs, the population of Turkish people living in Western European countries reached 5,5 million persons. Meanwhile for decades this corridor was defined by labor migration, currently forced migrants from Middle East and African countries in addition to Turkish emigrant groups have shaped it. Besides the transformation from a migrant sending country to a destination country, Turkey is discussed as a “country of first asylum” (Canefe, 2016), where many refugees with direct experiences of violence arrive.

Since the war in Syria, the number of forced migrant population in Turkey has increased rapidly. According to Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), the population of Syrian forced migrants accepted under temporary protection has raised from 14.237 in 2012 to 3.687.244 in 2019. Turkey became the largest host country for Syrian forced migrants. In addition to Syrian forced migrants, there can also be found forced migrant groups from other origin countries. DGMM estimates a number of irregular migrants of about 400,000.

On the other hand, Turkey is known as an upper middle-income country and still has struggled to improve its socio-economic conditions. The conditions related to its development sometimes reinforce the vulnerability of citizens as well as forced migrants’ groups. Most of the forced migrants escaped from the effects of organized violence. They might be the victims of organized violence again during their journey to Turkey. After they have entered the transit country, the risk of suffering organized violence and exploitation continues.