Access to the territory and push backs


Country Report: Access to the territory and push backs Last updated: 30/11/20



Access at the land border


Turkey has constructed a 144km wall on its Iranian border,[1] although some stakeholders have questioned its efficacy. In 2019 irregular arrivals were mostly reported in Van, Ağrı and Erzurum in the east, and Muğla, Aydın, İzmir, Çanakkale, Edirne and İstanbul in the west. According to DGMM statistics, Afghanistan was the top nationality of persons apprehended for irregular migration, with 201,437 out of a total of 454,662 apprehended persons in 2019 – the highest number since records began.[2] In the east people continued to arrive on foot or with the assistance of smugglers, following Ministry of Interior instructions to bus companies not to sell tickets to persons who do not hold valid documentation.[3]

Increasing numbers of arrivals through the Iranian border has led to restrictive measures and arbitrary detention and deportation practices (see Place of Detention), with mainly single Afghan men being issued deportation (“T1”) forms.[4] The “T1” forms are usually issued following administrative detention in a Removal Centre or a police station, and are stored in the DGMM electronic file management system named “Göç-Net”. If a “T1” deportation decision has been issued, the person cannot apply for international protection and the decision can only be challenged by a judicial appeal.[5]

In 2019 there were push backs from Greece to Turkey.[6] Lawyers in Van assisted in several cases and highlighted illegalities in the deportation procedures.[7]

As of November 2019, 23,789 Afghan nationals had reportedly been deported from Turkey.[8]

Access to the territory through the Syrian land border is discussed in detail in Temporary Protection: Admission to Territory.


Access at the airport


Airports in Istanbul (Sabiha Gökçen and Istanbul) continue to serve as a key international hub for connection flights from refugee-producing regions to European and other Western destinations for asylum. It should be noted that visa restrictions have applied to Syrian nationals arriving from third countries by air and sea since 2016. The main airport is now the new Istanbul Airport and access there is much improved.

[1] TRT, ‘Wall set to improve security along Turkey-Iranian border’, 8 November 2018, available at:

[2] DGMM, Irregular migration statistics, available at:

[3] Information provided by a stakeholder in February 2019.

[4] See e.g. Afghanistan Analysts Network, ‘Mass Deportations of Afghans from Turkey: Thousands of migrants sent back in a deportation drive’, 21 June 2018, available at:

[5] Information provided by a stakeholder in March 2019.

[6] See for example the Daily Sabah, ‘Turkey calls on Greece to stop illegal ‘pushbacks’ of migrants’, 27 October 2019, at:

[7] Information provided by a lawyer from the Van Bar Association, February 2020.

[8] See Xinhua, ‘Over 464,000 undocumented Afghan refugees return home in 2019’, 21 November 2019, at: For 2018 see: Evrensel, ‘Muhammed gibi binlerce mülteci ölüme gönderiliyor’, 28 February 2019, available in Turkish at:


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of main changes since the previous report update
  • Introduction to the asylum context in Turkey
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • Temporary Protection Regime
  • Content of Temporary Protection