The report was last updated in July 2022.
In 2022, a significant concern related to migration and asylum was the number of arrivals from Ukraine as a result of the conflict with Russia. Despite the fact that the number of Ukrainian refugees has consistently ranged between 15,000 and 20,000, reportedly around 145,000 Ukrainians reached Türkiye since the war’s declaration in February 2022. However, the number of Urkainians present in the country by January 2023 was 95,000 according to UNHCR. 58,000 Ukrainians had arrived in Türkiye as of March 2022, with at least 30,000 entering by land and 900 arriving by air via third nations. The first convoys carrying Ukrainians to Türkiye consisted of women and children. 7,131 Ukrainians applied for international protection as of February 2023. However, this number declined to 4,955 by June 2023, according to UNHCR. These refugees had different characteristics than those fleeing Syria or other countries, and Türkiye did not treat most of them as refugees, but rather as “foreigners” who intend to remain in Türkiye until the war is over. Around 14,000 Russians who opposed the conflict were said to have left the Russian Federation for Türkiye as of March 2022. Bloggers, professors, activists, and entrepreneurs opposing the war were among them.
Russian single young men who do not want to enlist in the military appeared to be particularly likely to migrate to Türkiye. It is estimated that around 200,000 Russians moved abroad due to the political and economic consequences of the war and that around 3,000 Russians had already moved to Türkiye before the start of war at the beginning of February 2022. Russians present in the country are mostly anti-war activists and political opponents of President Vladimir Putin who are worried about Moscow’s crackdown on the opposition, young men who are afraid of being drafted into the army to fight in Ukraine, or middle-class professionals pessimistic about their economic prospects at home in the aftermath of Western sanctions and Russia’s own implementation of capital controls. The Ark is one of several small-scale NGOs in Türkiye that assist Russians seeking refuge in Türkiye. Since the beginning of the war, the Ark has assisted 250 Russians fleeing to Türkiye. Russians can stay in Türkiye for up to three months without a visa, but those who want to stay longer must apply for resident permits. Russians ranked first in long-term residency permits with 146,063 and third in family permits with 7,732 as of 25 May 2023. One of the primary challenges that this group envisions is obtaining a bank account. After Visa and MasterCard removed Russian banks from their networks, they were left without a credit card. Russians in Türkiye have claimed that opening a bank account in Türkiye has been difficult due to banks “creating problems.” Russian migrants aim to acquire financial freedom by opening a bank account in Türkiye and so gain access to international banking and payment networks. The bank only grants customers Turkish lira accounts, but online tools allow them to later open hard-currency accounts. Russian migrants aim to acquire financial freedom by opening a bank account in Türkiye and so gain access to international banking and payment networks. The bank only grants customers Turkish lira accounts, but online tools allow them to later open hard-currency accounts.
One of the significant changes in 2022 was the overall policy change against Syrians. As of 6 June 2022, newly arrived Syrians began to be referred to temporary accommodation centres. Turkiye gradually reactivated temporary accommodation centres as a result of this policy shift. In addition, stakeholders pointed out “sweeping” (süpürme) operations take place in some of the country’s main cities, in addition to the application of the “deconcentration” policy; these often which result in mass arrests and deportations of Syrians. In 2022, the number of Syrians arrested almost equalled that of Afghans, for the first time in recent years.
Pushbacks on the Greek-Turkish border and “blocking” on the Turkish-Iranian border made it often deadly to enter and exit the region. The irregular border crossings along the Iranian border continued to spark public outcries. The severe economic crisis additionally influenced discussions on migration throughout the year.
Although a slight increase has been observed (from 29,250 to 33,246) in the number of international protection beneficiaries and a significant decrease in the number of registered temporary protection beneficiaries (from 3,535,898 to 3,373,967) in 2022, stakeholders reported that for both international and temporary protection seekers access to registration opportunities were extremely limited in 2022. Therefore, many people were not able to access essential services. The number of Syrians and non-Syrians becoming undocumented in Türkiye also increased following the earthquakes, which led them to face increasing difficulties in accessing social services and exercising their rights, and exposes them to a higher risk of deportation.
According to a national survey conducted in March 2022, 81% of Turkish citizens support the repatriation of Syrian refugees. In another survey conducted by Kadir Has University in 26 Turkish cities, respondents ranked “refugees” as the second most pressing issue in their lives. These elevated anti-refugee sentiments were exacerbated by the political discourse surrounding the general elections in May 2023. Specifically, a newly established party, Victory Party, has based its rhetoric on anti-refugee propaganda and received public support. As a reaction to rising anti-refugee sentiment stroked by opposition parties and the society calling for the return of Syrians to war-torn Syria, President Erdoğan has promised to relocate at least 1 million Syrians in Turkish-controlled regions of northern Syria. Hundreds of Syrian men and boys were forcibly imprisoned and forced to sign voluntary return forms before being forcibly deported to northern Syria. The temporary protection scheme came under scrutiny as anti-refugee rhetoric increased. Turkiye announced in August 2022 that 517,000 Syrians had safely and voluntarily returned to Syria and at least 70% of the temporary protection beneficiaries is ready to return. However, UNHCR stated that mass returns to Syria are unlikely to happen in the near future.
With the help of ICMPD and funding from the national budget, PMM established its own voluntary returns programme in 2021. This process is less transparent, and it is unknown how many people are returning. After Kabul, returns to Afghanistan were halted for a short while, but as of the beginning of 2022, Turkiye started to send huge numbers of Afghans back to Afghanistan under the guise of “voluntary return”.’ 44.786 Afghans returned to Afghanistan with 186 charter flights in 2022. Before the elections, in 2022, approximately 320 Afghans were sent back to Afghanistan from Agri and charter flights were numerous. Some charter flights went to Afghanistan through Ankara. All of these returnees signed a return form voluntarily. From March 2021 to May 2022, Amnesty International documented 155 cases of illegal deportation and 23 pushbacks of Afghans involving gunshots at the border.
In the context of the implementation of the EU-Türkiye readmissions to Türkiye continued to be frozen throughout 2022. As of May 2023, 37,743 Syrians had been resettled (since 2016) to the EU under the 1:1 scheme.
In 2022, there was little discussion of integration projects, possibly as a result of the economy’s uncertainty and the impending election in May 2023. Such project continue, but often less visibility due to the above-mentioned anti-refugee rhetoric that became predominant in the country.
This update of the country report does not cover the devastating effects of the earthquake that hit 11 cities of Türkiye on 6 February 2023 and the severe consequences it had on the migrant and refugee population present in the country. A more detailed depiction will be provided in the next year’s update.
International protection procedure
- Access to the territory: Turkiye’s Eastern region’s border was closed, but this did not prevent irregular crossings of Afghans and Iranians due to well-connected smuggling networks crossing borders. Pushbacks were prevalent in 2022, and because of increased anti-refugee sentiment in society, some officials explicitly supported pushbacks and referred to them as “blocking at the border.” Access to the air border has become more restricted than in past years, particularly at the Istanbul Airport.
- Registration: The registration of applications remained one of the most significant barriers to people seeking international protection in Türkiye in 2022. PDMMs in numerous large cities, along the coast, and near borders did not accept new applications during the year. Although registrations did not cease entirely, they were reported as ‘almost impossible’ in numerous places, notably for vulnerable persons. Inconsistencies in PDMM practise also caused difficulties.
- Deconcentration: From 20 May 2022, it will be illegal for any region or area in Türkiye to have a foreign national population that exceeds one-quarter of the total population. This covers both individuals who have made Türkiye their permanent home and those who are just passing through. This guideline is known as the 25 percent limit or the 25 percent rule. With the exception of new-borns and cases of family reunification, neighbourhoods in various provinces are now closed to foreign nationals seeking address registrations for temporary protection, international protection, and residence permits, as well as changes to their city of residence if they are foreign nationals with residence permits or are under temporary or international protection. As of 1 July 2022, 781 neighbourhoods and then 1,169 neighbourhoods were blocked to protection seekers registrations.
- Quality of the first-instance procedure: Similar to previous years, practice on the decision-making at first instance was not consistent across provinces in 2022. Throughout the year, specific issues were raised about the quality of interviews, the appraisal of evidence, the failure to identify vulnerable groups, and the lack of training for migration experts. There were no specific concerns raised regarding translators, which can be interpreted as a positive improvement. A lack of standard execution of procedural regulations at PDMMs, as well as no transparent information concerning the “opening” and “closing” of satellite cities, are structural issues in international protection application procedures.
- Protection from refoulement: Some stakeholders stated that the Constitutional Court had become desensitised to their appeals against deportation orders, forcing them to apply to the European Court of Human Rights for an interim measure to prevent deportations.
- Legal assistance: In cooperation with UNHCR, the Union of Turkish Bar Associations continues to offer free legal services in 2022 to those seeking refuge at all phases of the international protection system, while they are in custody within administrative proceedings, and for civil law and women’s rights issues. The project restricts who can access its services since it does not provide service to those who were imposed a security code. However, it was generally praised as a much-needed service, especially in smaller cities.
- Access to information: Despite several attempts from NGOs, in practice, access to information on the international protection procedure and applicable rights and obligations remains a severe challenge in 2022. A significant source of concern was again the lack of knowledge about which PDMM offices were open for registration.
- The Cohesion Strategy and National Action Plan: There is no convincing evidence that Cohesion Strategy and National Action Plan has been implemented in 2022. According to a recent survey, 62% of the host community believes that social cohesion initiatives are effective.
- Access to housing: One of the most visible weaknesses in Türkiye’s asylum legal framework is the country’s refusal to commit to providing state-funded lodging to asylum seekers. As a result, they face significant challenges such as homelessness or substandard housing conditions, putting them at danger of discrimination and major violations. The material situations of refugees have deteriorated significantly as a result of post-COVID 19 conditions and the current economic crisis. The rental crisis, which began in 2022, has had a significant impact on asylum seekers, with many having to cope with lawsuits filed by homeowners, leading up deportation in some circumstances.
- Access to the labour market: Due to the nature of their work, post-COVID-19 conditions and the severe economic crisis, many refugees, asylum seekers and beneficiaries of temporary protection struggled to find work and to cover their basic needs.
Detention of asylum seekers
- Place of detention: The number of Removal Centres is 30 as of May 2023 and two of them, Igdir and Malatya removal centres are listed as temporary removal centres by PMM.
Content of international protection
- Residence permits and other administrative procedures: PDMMs ran address verification procedures for both international and temporary protection holders. Where they were not found at the correct place of registration, deportation orders were issued. The Ministry of Interior Affairs announced that 122,000 Syrians were not found in their addresses.
- Resettlement: Due to the significant demands, UNHCR expanded its resettlement team, creating two new interview sites in Istanbul and Gaziantep, and is exploring additional complementary options for refugees through labour mobility and educational opportunities. 11,803 refugees were submitted for resettlement consideration to 13 countries in 2022 as of 30 September and 5,927 refugees departed to 12 countries. UNHCR Türkiye has invested in upscaling resettlement activities resulting in a submission of over 50 per cent of total quota in the first half of 2022. According to PMM statistics, 19,189 Syrians had been transferred to third countries between 2014 and June 2022, mainly to Canada, the US, the United Kingdom and Norway.
- Response to the conflict in Ukraine: Citizens of Ukraine can enter Türkiye with a passport or their national ID and stay in the country legally with a visa exemption for up to 90 days. For Ukrainian citizens who entered Türkiye legally but have not been able to leave due to the conflict, as of March 2022, governorships were instructed to provide support with residence permit applications for both short and long-term. Later in March, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu reported that 58,000 Ukrainians had come to Türkiye since the beginning of the conflict, with at least 30,000 arriving by land and 900 by air via third countries. The number of Ukrainians arrived Türkiye was updated as 85,000 by President Erodgan in 25 April 2022. UNHCR announced that 95,000 Ukrainians arrived Türkiye as of January 2023. Some support programmes had already started including in Kuşadası Municipality where they have started an initiative for Ukrainian women who left their country to work online and earn income. In March 2023, 159 unaccompanied Ukrainian children and 26 caring social workers who had been evacuated to Poland right after the start of the war were transferred to Antalya for safety and security reasons. NGOs such as SGDD-ASAM provided online counselling in Russian and Ukrainians. There were 551 Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks among the Ukrainian citizens who came to Türkiye, who were placed in dormitories in Edirne and Kırklareli, with support from AFAD. On 3 June 2022, a Presidential Decree was entered into force granting 1000 households of Meskhetian Turks in the utmost need for protection permanent residency (iskanli gocmen) in 2022. Russian nationals can also travel to Türkiye visa-free for 90 days. As of March 2022, it was reported that around 14,000 Russians who opposed the war had fled the Russian Federation to Türkiye. These included anti-war bloggers, academics, activists and business people.
Temporary protection procedure
- Registration: Access to temporary protection was almost impossible for applicants in 2022. The issues mentioned above on the registration of applicants for international protection also apply to the registration of individuals falling under the temporary protection procedure (i.e. unclarity as to which cities are open/closed for registration, lack of ID documents resulting in irregular migrants being at risk of deportation and administrative detention). The registration procedure of Syrians changed in 2022 and they have been referred to temporary accommodation centres as of 6 June 2022.
- Temporary accommodation centres: As a result of a shift in registration strategy, Turkiye changed its stance on gradually closing down temporary accommodation centres in 2022. In 2022, nine temporary accommodation facilities were opened and re-activated.
- Voluntary return: Serious concerns continued to be expressed by stakeholders on the enforced signing of voluntary return forms in 2022. Conditions in removal centres were also mentioned as a factor that could push people to return. Türkiye started a housebuilding programme in 9 regions including Idlib and by May 2022 said 400-500 Syrians were returning to Syria voluntarily per week.
Content of temporary protection
- Address Verification: An address verification exercise launched in 2021 to validate the authenticity of address information and to tighten monitoring of Syrians under temporary protection’s residence landed in the deactivation of status for around 600,000 Syrians under temporary protection in 2022. While over 160,000 people have had their status reinstated, many have forced to relocate to their initial province of registration or risk continuing without the legal status that allows them to access public services and formal work.
- Housing: The number of people in temporary accommodation centres increased from 49,349 to 61,943 between June 2022 to May 2023.
 Sebnem Turhan, ‘In Istanbul, fleeing Russians mull next step of self-exile’, Al-Monitor, 16 March 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/44KWDBX; Al Jazeera, Ukrainian refugees, Russian exiles seek shelter in Turkey, 21 March 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/46D9wQl.
 “Sweeping” operations might be based on a pending criminal case investigated by public prosecutor offices and conducted simultaneously in multiple cities, or they might be operated by the Directorate General of the Police on the basis of protecting public safety and security in big cities such as Istanbul and Ankara; however, there is no transparency on the matter. If irregular migrants are apprehended during these operations, they are immediately transferred to detention facilities and deported.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, June 2023.
 The Guardian, Turkey reinforces Iran border to block Afghan refugees, 23 August 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3pMXPG4; Reuters, Turkey reinforces border to block any Afghan migrant wave, 23 August 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3PQBkdW; Politico, Turkey puts its migrant security system on display for Europe, 3 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/44HwHH7.
 Pinar Tremblay, ‘Is this Turkish anti-immigrant party helping Erdogan?’, Al Monitor, 23 June 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3JYVSNx; Merve Tahiroğlu, ‘Göç Politikaları: Türkiye’deki Mülteciler ve 2023 Seçimleri’, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung , 20 September 2022, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/44IgEsy.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2022.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.
 Amnesty International, ‘İran/Türkiye: Ülkelerinden kaçan Afganlar sınırlarda ateş altında kaldı ve hukuka aykırı olarak geri gönderildi’, 31 August 2022, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/3pJoMu6.
 See PMM, Temporary protection: https://bit.ly/3wm3j97.
 For more information see, inter alia, D. Danış, K. Biehl., E. Kablan Deprem ve Göç 3 (gocarastirmalaridernegi.org), 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3Db5mS4; D. Sert, D. Danış, E. Sevinin, Bu rapor, Göç Araştırmaları Derneği (GAR) tarafından, yaşadığımız büyük deprem felaketi sonrasında çoğu zaman görmezden gelinen ya da ayrımcı söylem ve pratiklere maruz kalan mülteci ve göçmenlerin durumunu tespit etmek üzere hazırlandı. GAR olarak (gocarastirmalaridernegi.org), March 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/43qz4NH.
 Information provided by several stakeholders, May 2023.
 Dr. Öğr. Üyesi Asuman Özgür Keysan, Doç. Dr. Doğa Elçin, Doç. Dr. Ilgar Seyidov, Doç. Dr. Ceyhan Çiğdemoğl, GÖÇ VE SOSYAL UYUM SÜRECİ: HATAY İLİ ÖRNEĞİ, Araştırma Raporu, 2022.
 Information provided by several stakeholders, May 2023.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, June 2023.
 Hurriyet Daily News, ‘Some 14,000 Russians flee to Türkiye after Ukraine war’, 21 March 2022. Available in English at: https://bit.ly/3zKGVub; Medyascope, ‘War is now a crime say Russian journalists fleeing Putin’s wrath,’ 22 March 2022, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/3b7jwZO.