Special reception needs of vulnerable groups


Country Report: Special reception needs of vulnerable groups Last updated: 30/11/20



The “persons with special needs” category includes “unaccompanied minors, handicapped persons, elderly, pregnant women, single parents with minor children, victims of torture, rape and other forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence”.[1]

In addition to the measures set out in Identification, the LFIP makes a number of special provisions regarding the reception services to be extended to “persons with special needs” including unaccompanied children. However, the additional reception measures prescribed by the law are far from sufficient.

Reception of unaccompanied children

When it comes to unaccompanied children, Article 66 LFIP orders that the principle of “best interests of the child” shall be observed in all decisions concerning unaccompanied minor applicants. According to the new Article 66(B) LFIP[2], all children younger than 18 shall be placed in children’s shelters or other premises under the authority of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services.

There are different procedures applied for separated children. In Kilis and Mersin, if one of the parents is alive the courts cancel the custody of children first, and then appoint a guardian. In Antep the courts directly appoint a guardian.[3] In Antakya, there is a protocol between the PDDM and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies with regards to the registration of separated children and constitution of their legal relationships with their families. In Antakya in 2019 there concerns over the custody of unaccompanied and separated children and legal assessments of new guardians not being conducted carefully.[4]

Reception of survivors of torture or violence

According to Article 67(2) LFIP, applicants who are identified as “victims of torture, rape and other forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence” shall be provided appropriate treatment with a view to helping them heal from past experiences. However, as to the actual implementation of this commitment, guidance merely mentions that DGMM authorities may cooperate with relevant public institutions, international organisations and NGOs for this purpose (see Health Care).

Gender-based violence against refugee women persists as a risk, as highlighted in 2018 research from the Turkish Medical Association.[5] In 2016, two Ugandan sisters were raped and beaten, resulting in one sister’s death in Istanbul.[6] In 2017, a woman from Kyrgyzstan was assaulted by police officers in Antalya.[7] In 2018, an Afghan woman who had been missing for a month was found murdered in Burdur.[8] In early 2019, an Uzbek woman was raped by a police officer in Istanbul and, as criminal proceedings were pending before the 8th Criminal Court of Istanbul, it was reported by lawyers that the woman was deported due to a violation of visa obligations and was no longer reachable in Uzbekistan to give a power of attorney.[9]

In some cases, the history of gender-based violence of female applicants might be used against them by public authorities that possess their private data through personal interviews. Also, according to incidents reported from Eskişehir and Denizli, interpreters who are not generally under oath might leak this type of information within small networks in the satellite cities. It is widely known by NGOs working with women that there are rape and sexual harassment incidents committed by public officers or third parties against single women and victims of gender-based violence.

In 2018, some women victims of violence were referred to provinces where they faced difficulties, including Bayburt, Elazığ and Gümüşhane. Four cases were reported concerning Afghan and Iranian single women assigned to Nevşehir, where they were exposed to harassment.[10]

Victims of gender-based violence are referred to Centres for the Elimination and Monitoring of Violence (Şiddet Önleme ve İzleme Merkezi, ŞÖNİM) which in turn refer them to women’s shelters (kadın konukevi), mostly run by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, municipalities or NGOs.[11] In 2018 Turkey had a total of 144 shelters spread across 79 municipalities, with an overall capacity of 3,454 places, including one shelter managed by DGMM with 12 places.[12] In 2019 there were reports of 145 shelters with a capacity of 3,482.[13]

There are now four dedicated facilities for victims of human trafficking: one operated by DGMM for women in Kırıkkale with 12 places, and another shelter for women operated by the municipality of Ankara with 30 places.[14] There is also a shelter for men in Kırıkkale with 40 places and a family shelter with 40 places in Aydın. However, conditions in those centres vary. For example, a woman ran away from the centre managed by DGMM in Kırıkkale due to poor security conditions.[15]

Some NGOs, municipalities provide places for short stays in case of emergency (see also Temporary Protection: Vulnerable Groups).

Reception of LGBTI persons

LGBTI persons are not mentioned as a category of “persons with special needs” in the LFIP. Nevertheless, their particular situation was taken into consideration in the process of assignment of a “satellite city” in the past.[16] Prior to the termination of the “joint registration” system in September 2018, UNHCR / SGDD-ASAM mainly referred LGBTI persons to specific provinces, where communities were known to be more open and sensitive to this population.

Due to capacity shortages in these provinces in 2018, applicants were directed to more conservative provinces, where they face greater risks of discrimination.[17] However, in 2019 LGBTI refugees were still being referred to Eskişehir, Denizli and Yalova from Ankara at least. LGBTI ex-minors are also referred to these cities.[18]

In many provinces, LGBTI applicants face additional challenges to reception, particularly due to the lack of state-provided accommodation and the requirement to secure their own accommodation. For persons who do not fit in the predominant gender roles, housing may become more difficult to find but also precarious, as many fear the risk of being evicted by landlords if their orientation or identity is discovered.[19] In the past SGDD-ASAM referred trans applicants to the Transgender House (Trans evi) in Istanbul for short stays where the applicant had specific needs,[20] however it is no longer open as the project ended in 2019. Now NGOs can sometimes find temporary housing, but only in very vulnerable cases.

In addition, trans persons who start or are undergoing gender reassignment process may face obstacles in securing treatment due to hospitals’ limited familiarity with this field, as well as restricted financial capacity to afford hormones which are not covered by social security.[21] In general, they consult the nearest research and training public hospitals with medical councils responsible for deciding on medico- legal processes. The very first ruling on the legal recognition of an Iranian trans woman’s application dated 2016 was published on 25 January 2018 and allowed her to proceed to gender reassignment.[22] In another positive decision, the 7th Civil Court of Izmir approved the gender reassignment process of an Iranian refugee.[23] More recently, however, lawyers have witnessed court decisions refusing gender reassignment procedures to trans refugees in Izmir and Yalova. Another application is currently pending before the Constitutional Court and a positive decision is expected. Once the process is complete she will go to Australia for resettlement.[24]

LGBTI refugees can access psychological support from contracted psychiatrists and clinics through UNHCR, state hospitals or NGOs in satellite cities. Since hospitals do not have interpreters, this group usually accesses psychological support from SGDD-ASAM and Human Resource Development Foundation (HRDF) offices in satellite cities. LGBTI refugees have stated that they find it difficult to express themselves easily in sessions due to the fact that they access psychological support through interpreters, and experts sometimes do not have adequate awareness of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity and prejudices.[25]

Reception of persons living with HIV

People living with HIV are not explicitly identified as a group having special needs in the LFIP. Few NGOs deal with the needs of this group such as Positive Life in Istanbul and SGDD-ASAM in Ankara. Unfortunately, information on their situation is not well known. The limited training and familiarity of health care institutions with their situation creates obstacles to effective access to health care.[26]

[1] Article 3(1)(l) LFIP.

[2] Law No 7196 amending several acts, 6 December 2019, in Turkish at: http://bit.ly/2TSm0zU.

[3] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2020.

[4] Information provided by a lawyer from the Antakya Bar Association.

[5] Birgün, ‘Göçün kadına yansıması: Zorla fuhuş, şiddet, hastalık’, 23 August 2018, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2JudcgC.

[6] Evrensel, ‘Violet ve Beatrice için adalet çağrısı’, 5 December 2016, available in Turkish at: http://bit.ly/2z3QdyB.

[7] Mynet, ‘Antalya’daki kadına polis şiddeti için flaş tutuklama’, 27 October 2017, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2TQ4Gxi.

[8] Evrensel, ‘Burdur’da kadın cinayeti: Kayıp Afgan kadın gömülmüş halde bulundu’, 8 February 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2T80vYi.

[9] Birgün, ‘İstanbul’da polis, taksiden indirdiği kadına tecavüz etti’, 20 January 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2U2HuMb; Information provided by a lawyer of the Antalya Bar Association, March 2019.

[10] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[11] Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, Şiddet Önleme ve İzleme Merkezi, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2HLo6fm.

[12]   Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, ‘’137 Sığınma Evi Yetmiyor’ Başlıklı Haberle İlgili Basın Açıklaması’, 6 September 2018, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2Ofi7AT. See BBC Turkey, 25 Kasım Kadına Yönelik Şiddetle Mücadele Günü – Kadınların ağzından sığınma evleri: ‘Sanki suç işlemişiz gibi davranıyorlar’, 25 November 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bbc.in/33S3g7j; See also, NPR, ‘We Don’t Want To Die’: Women In Turkey Decry Rise In Violence And Killings, 15 September 2019, at: https://n.pr/2WZtP8T.

[14] DGMM, Victims of human trafficking, available at: https://bit.ly/2uFKMpT.

[15] Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.

[16]Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2018.

[17] See e.g. Deutsche Welle, ‘Suriyelilerin İstanbul’a kaydı durduruldu’, 6 February 2018, available in Turkish at: http://bit.ly/2sjHtWS.

[18]Information provided by a stakeholder in Ankara, February 2020.

[19] Kaos GL, Turkey’s challenge with LGBTI refugees, 4 December 2019, 29-32.

[20]Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2018.

[21] Kaos GL, Waiting to be “safe and sound”: Turkey as an LGBTI refugees’ way station, July 2016, 39.

[22] 2nd Civil Court of Denizli, Decision 2018/19, 25 January 2018.

[23] 7th Civil Court of Izmir, Decision 2018/370, 9 October 2018.

[24] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.

[25] Kaos GL report, Turkey’s challenge with LGBTI refugees, 4 December 2019, available at: http://bit.ly/2TXasf4.

[26] Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.


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