The temporary protection framework laid down by the TPR, first and foremost, provides a domestic legal status to beneficiaries granting legal stay in Turkey; protection from punishment for illegal entry or presence and protection from refoulement.
The evolution of discourse on and integration policy for Syrian refugees has been summarised in 2018 as follows:
“The first 4 years can be referred to as the first period in which both authorities and the Syrians themselves regarded the crisis as a rather short-term problem, an assumption because of which steps such as meeting such temporary needs as accommodation, nutrition, and health were taken rather than planning new lives.
The second period includes the years 5,6,7, and 8, the current one. In this period, due to the anticipation that the crisis is not going to be resolved in a short time, there has been a mobility in Turkey with regard to the Syrians. The Syrian population that used to live around the border towns and in South East Anatolia, have recently migrated to industrialized cities where the labour market is more active and today, Istanbul alone hosts around 600 thousand Syrians. The focal points of this second period have been participation in education opportunities, special needs of women and children, child marriage, child labour, and problems of people with chronic diseases, the disabled, and the elderly, etc. During this period, protection has come into prominence and the actors focused more on the aforementioned issues. Besides, access to livelihood and labour market has become more important subjects. As a result of the mobility in Turkey and the increase in participation in the labour market in this period, Syrians have become more visible in Turkey.”
2019 could potentially be identified as the beginning of a third period: one of social cohesion and return. As already mentioned, DGMM issued a strategy, the Cohesion Strategy and National Action Plan. According to the strategy, six thematic areas are to be addressed by DGMM: social cohesion, information, education, health, labour market and social support (social services and benefits). However, events in Istanbul in the summer of 2019 also saw a rise in irregular migrants sent to detention centres in several cities and unregistered Syrians sent to temporary accommodation centres. Amnesty International documented cases of Syrians deported from Istanbul, including 20 cases of forced returns and other stakeholders have expressed concerns about the voluntary nature of those signing voluntary return forms, particularly from detention. After a field visit to Turkey in 2019, an NGO from the Netherlands reported testimonies that Syrian refugees in detention centres had been forced to sign a ‘voluntary’ return document. Several of these refugees were also mistreated by the Turkish security services or denied access to medical care. These practices continued to be reported in 2020.
Türk Kızılay runs 16 community centres for migrants in different locations across the country. Municipalities also have a central role in the provision of services and integration support through projects. In the past the lack of a national integration plan led to fragmentation and lack of coordination in the area of integration. The Cohesion Strategy and Action Plan (2018-2023) was hoped to solve some of these issues, but it remained largely unimplemented in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.
International NGOs have also been active in border provinces since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. In 2015, for example, there were approximately 150 NGOs including international NGOs in Gaziantep. Currently, however, the scope of foreign NGOs’ activities is limited and under close monitoring by the competent PDMM, as organisations need to obtain permission to operate in Turkey and renew it regularly.
The Chapter: Content of Temporary Protection in Turkey contains sections on: