Admission to territory


Country Report: Admission to territory Last updated: 27/02/23



While Article 6 TPR provides that all persons within the scope of the Regulation shall be protected from refoulement, the overall framework laid down by the TPR fails to explicitly guarantee the right of access Turkish territory for prospective beneficiaries. Persons approaching Türkiye’s borders without a valid travel document may be admitted to territory within the discretion of the provincial Governorate.[1]

Furthermore, either the Presidency has the discretion to order “limitations” or “suspension” of existing temporary protection measures in place “in the event of circumstances threatening national security, public order, public security and public health”, including the possibility of the imposition of “additional measures concerning the mass movement of people both along Türkiye’s borderline and beyond Türkiye’s borderline”.[2] This formulation appears to indicate that the Turkish Government may choose to seal Türkiye’s borders to persons seeking temporary protection in Türkiye, either for a specific period or indefinitely, where considerations of national security, public order, public security and public health are deemed to require so.

Access through the Turkish-Syrian land border has been limited through different restrictions. Türkiye completed the construction of a 764km concrete wall on its Syrian border in June 2018, and installed cameras and lighting systems in some of its parts.[3] The wall stretches along the border provinces of Gaziantep, Kilis, Hatay, Mardin and Şırnak. Human Rights Watch reported the Turkish-Syrian border to be “effectively closed to new asylum seekers” in 2018.[4] In March 2019, however, Türkiye announced the opening of a border-crossing point in the Afrin region, named “Olive Branch”.[5] There border-crossing point is being reinforced with new technology.[6] For example, in July 2020 Türkiye started to patrol the border using surveillance balloons able to scan an area of eight square kilometres.[7]

The physical barrier has not completely stopped arrivals, although it has exacerbated difficulties in crossing the Turkish-Syrian border. Refugees have reportedly had to climb the border wall,[8] or to bribe border guards to enter Türkiye.[9] There are also reports of tunnels and that the wall has increased smugglers’ prices.[10] PMM figures for 2021 refer to a total of 162,996 apprehended irregular migrants countrywide, of whom only 17,562 were Syrian nationals. The largest group at 70,252 were Afghans.[11] This represents an increase on 2020, where a total of 122,302 persons were apprehended, of whom 17.562 were Syrians and 50,161 Afghans, [12] and when numbers of arrivals were significantly reduced due to COVID-19.

Allegations of pushbacks and violence at the Turkish-Syrian border continued. In a 2018 report, Human Rights Watch referred to 137 incidents of interception of Syrians after crossing the border between December 2017 and March 2018.[13] There are reports that Turkish officers fire guns at times to stop people entering the country.[14] Applications for international protection are not accepted at the border.[15]

In October 2019, Türkiye launched a military offensive in northeastern Syria which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said was aimed at removing Kurdish-led forces from the border area and creating a “safe zone” to which millions of Syrian refugees could be returned. Türkiye spoke of returning ISIL fighters to the region and presented a plan to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for resettling up to two million Syrian refugees in the areas under its control. [16] Attacks on Idlib causing the death of more than 50 Turkish soldiers in February 2020 escalated tensions in the region and led to President Erdogan ‘opening the gates’ between Türkiye and the EU, saying amongst other things that Türkiye could not cope with another mass influx of refugees from Syria. This led to Greece closing its border, criticisms of both Europe and Türkiye’s handling of the situation and concerns for the human rights of migrants and refugees in the middle.[17] These incidents are further described in Access to the territory and push backs.

In 2020, the Women’s Solidarity Foundation also reported allegations of sexual violence and harassment committed by Turkish soldiers and security guards against Syrian women crossing the Turkish border.[18]

In 2021 despite the wall being built on the eastern border, some people manage to cross the border and enter Türkiye. They are being pushed back when caught by the authorities, but the majority of attempts are called ‘ blocking’ by Turkish authorities – not pushing back.[19]




[1]  Article 17(2) TPR.

[2] Article 15 TPR.

[3] Daily Sabah, ‘Türkiye finishes construction of 764-km security wall on Syria border’, 9 June 2018, available at:; Hürriyet, ‘Türkiye improves border security with smart system’, 6 January 2019, available at:

[4] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2019: Türkiye, available at:

[5] Middle East Monitor, ‘Türkiye to open border gate with Syria’s Afrin next week – minister’, 5 March 2019, available at:

[6] CNN Turk, ‘Suriye sınırına akıllı güvenlik’, 13 January 2020, available in Turkish at:

[7] Hürriyet, ‘Turkish surveillance balloon patrolling Syria border’, 21 July 2020, available at:

[8] Hürriyet, ‘Footage shows Syrians scaling Turkish border wall with ladders’, 7 September 2018, available at:

[9] International Crisis Group, Mitigating Risks for Syrian Refugee Youth in Türkiye’s Şanlıurfa, February 2019, available at:, 5-6.

[10] Information received from stakeholders from Ankara and Şanlıurfa, March 2020.

[11] PMM, Irregular migration statistics, available at:

[12] PMM, Irregular migration statistics, available at:

[13] Ministry of Interior, Reply to Human Rights Watch, 21 March 2018, available at:

[14] For example, Human Rights Watch, ‘Türkiye/Syria: Border Guards Shoot, Block Fleeing Syrians’, 3 February 2018, available at:

[15] Information provided by a stakeholder in Gaziantep, February 2020.

[16] See the Al Jazeera timeline of events on the Türkiye-Syria border, available here:

[17] ECRE, Statement on the situation on the Greek Turkish border, 3 March 2020, available at:

[18] The Women’s Solidarity Foundation, Gender Based Violence and Discrimination: Syrian Women Living In Ankara, 2020, available at:, 26.

[19] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2022.

Table of contents

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