Refugee Crisis



  • After more than 4.5 years of conflict and suffering, the Syrian crisis has become the world’s largest humanitarian tragedy. Almost half of the country’s population, close to 12 million men, women and children have been displaced. 
  • Sharing not only a border of 911 km, but also history and culture, Turkey pursues an “open door” policy for Syrians without any form of discrimination.
  • Turkey strictly refuses to engage in any form of refoulement—the practice of forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution.
  • According to the UNHCR, Turkey is the biggest refugee-hosting country in the world. The total number of Syrians living in Turkey reached over 2 million. (Registered: 2.016.687 as of 18 September 2015)
  • 260.000 Syrians are accommodated in 25 temporary protection centers and provided with food, non-food items, health and education services as well as psychological assistance, vocational training and social activities. 
  • In addition to that, 1.8 million Syrians who live outside these centers are also under the protection of the Turkish government and they benefit from free medical services.
  • The attitude of Turkish society to migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and people under temporary protection has always been one of tolerance, sympathy and solidarity. 
  • Turkey will spare no efforts in its commitment to strengthen international cooperation with a view to protect human lives and improve living conditions of Syrians. 
  • There are almost 600,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey and more than 400,000 of them are not enrolled. New schools, classrooms and teachers are urgently needed. In this regard, proper funding for the implementation of UN “No Lost Generation Strategy” would be helpful.
  • Turkey has so far spent almost 6,7 billion US Dollars for all these efforts, whereas the total contributions received bilaterally and multilaterally from the international community so far have been limited to 417 million USD. This is not sustainable.
  • The UN Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for the period 2015-2016 which emphasizes resilience will hopefully alleviate the heavy burden on Syria’s neighboring countries. Although the total amount requested for Turkey is 624 million USD, so far only 185 million USD (30%) has been funded.
  • Reflected in these figures is a clear deficit of solidarity on the part of the international community on burden-sharing with respect to the Syrian crisis.
  • It is neither possible nor just to expect Turkey to face the migratory pressures, as well as risks and threats emanating from Syria, alone.
  • By providing protection, assistance and services to the Syrians, Turkey indeed upholds “European values” much better than the EU countries.
  • As the number of Syrians that are seeking safety and refuge in Europe by taking dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean increased dramatically, the Turkish Coast Guard has initiated an “Operation Safe Med” in the Mediterranean Sea and “Operation Aegean Hope” in the Aegean Sea in 2015 in order to maintain safety and security at seas. The operations conducted by the Turkish Coast Guard cost 5 million Euros of the country’s national resources per month.  
  • Since the beginning of 2015, the Turkish Coast Guard has rescued almost 55.000 migrants from drowning in the sea.
  • Turkey will continue its policy of saving lives of distressed migrants and asylum-seekers as well as manage migration in general. However, it is obvious that Syria’s border-countries faced with thousands of migrants and asylum-seekers every day cannot cope with this crisis alone.  All countries must protect people in need of protection.
  • Given the complex and transnational nature of the migration/asylum crisis, international cooperation and solidarity are indispensable in order to find a solution. All countries should exert joint efforts in order to prevent and overcome the problems brought by migration/asylum crises.
  • The fight against migrant smugglers and human traffickers, should definitely be intensified. However, “security measures” which do not address the root causes of irregular migration, such as economic, political, and social instabilities and conflicts, will only yield temporary and limited success.  
  • Turkey is of the opinion that a sustainable solution to irregular migration can only be attained if the “push factors” such as wars and conflicts, human rights violations, and economic deprivation in the countries of origin are prevented.
  • Therefore, it is of utmost importance that destination countries support peace processes, promote the peaceful settlement of disputes in conflict-affected areas, and step up humanitarian aid and development investments in the countries of transit and origin with a view to improve standards of living in these countries. 
  • Turkey is ready to cooperate with all relevant parties to overcome the migration crisis, while believing in the necessity of finding a sustainable solution that requires a shared responsibility.
  • With this understanding, Turkey has made a proposal to the UNSG for the inclusion of the item “Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin with a specific emphasis on Syrian asylum-seekers” in the Agenda of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly.  Our proposal was accepted by the General Assembly on 18th September 2015. This is a very positive development on the side of the UN.
  • This agenda item will present a unique opportunity for the international community to discuss, within the UN, what viable responses and solutions could be provided for the irregular migrants in the Mediterranean Basin through pragmatic partnerships between countries of origin, destination and transit. 
  • Furthermore, the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Summit held in Istanbul on 14-16 October 2015 under the Turkish Chairmanship, also provided the country with a great opportunity to discuss the migration issue on a global level.
Source: AFAD (Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Disaster & Emergency Management Authority)