Refugees and Turkey: A Research Symposium


On Friday November 30th, THO welcomed back it’s 2018 Summer Research Alumni to Washington, DC for “Refugees and Turkey: A Research Symposium.” 

Refugees and Turkey: A Research Symposium

12 Dec 18

On Friday November 30th, THO welcomed back it’s 2018 Summer Research Alumni to Washington, DC for “Refugees and Turkey: A Research Symposium.”


Following the THO 2018 Summer Research Program program, the program’s academic guide, Dr. Juliette Tolay, co-authored an Atlantic Council publication with Laura Batalla, Secretary General of European Parliament’s Turkey Forum, titled, “Toward Long-Term Solidarity with Syrian Refugees? Turkey’s Policy Response and Challenges.”

Refugees and Turkey: A Research Symposium

The symposium was moderated by the program’s academic guide and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the School of Public Affairs in Penn State Harrisburg, Dr. Juliette Tolay, and featured the following researchers: 

Meriam Salem - American University Graduate, B.A.

Kinga Karlowska - Graduate student at University of Massachusetts Boston

Ryan McCarthy - Graduate student at DePaul University

Lawrence Cenk Laws - Koc University, LLM

Prior to the panel, the researchers were invited to meet at the Atlantic Council headquarters in Washington, DC to present their research and discuss their findings with top officials from the EU Parliament and the Atlantic Council. These included Daniel Bennett, Director, Millennium Fellowship Program, Laura Batalla, Secretary General, European Parliament’s Turkey Forum, and Pinar Dost, Deputy Director, Atlantic Council in Turkey and Istanbul Summit.The researchers also answered questions from the officials regarding the application of their research and how they would utilize their findings in the future. This meeting was of significance due to THO’s close relationship with the Atlantic Council, THO was a proud sponsors of Atlantic Council’s Millenium Fellowship Program.  


After an introduction of the Summer Program by Dr. Tolay, Meriam Salem presented her research. Meriam’s research examined the Syrian refugees, their homes and their lives in Turkey through photographs that she had taken throughout the trip. Her presentation focused on six photos. While taking these pictures, she talked to the refugees and asked them a series of questions to better understand them and their lives. Her presentation also included a short video.

Kinga Karlowska spoke about her research into the experiences of female refugees and the insecurities that they faced both while migrating to Turkey, and once they had settled in Turkey. She examined how traditional gender roles affected the women’s lives as refugees, as well as what the Turkish government, international organizations and NGOs were doing to aid these refugee women.


Ryan McCarthy’s research looked at the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) cards that are given to refugees. Through a joint program which was funded by the EU between the Turkish Red Crescent and the World Food Programme, Syrian refugees can apply for ESSN cards, allowing them to transfer money. His research examined the program itself and how it affected the refugees and the local businesses in Turkey. 

Lawrence Laws’ research compared Temporary Protection Status (TPS) designations in the United States and Turkey. His presentation looked at the history of the TPS law in both countries, as well as the similarities and differences between the two. Laws asserted that TPS revolves more around policy than legality. He also explained the drawbacks to both designations as they make it more difficult for refugees under TPS to obtain their citizenship. 



Following the panel, the students met with Congressman Jamie Raskin to discuss the 2018 Summer Research Program and their findings. They then visited the U.S. Department of State Officials. Having met with many of the State Department officials before the trip, the visit allowed the researchers to share their findings from their research and answer questions. 

The day ended with a visit to the Turkish Embassy and Ambassador’s Residence. The researchers met with Cem Utkan, Deputy Chief of Mission, to discuss Turkey’s response to and role in the refugee crisis. Mr. Utkan laid out his predictions for how Turkey would handle refugee crisis moving forward. Following the meeting, the students toured the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence.