Cessation of temporary protection


Country Report: Cessation of temporary protection Last updated: 14/07/23



Temporary protection status shall cease for a particular beneficiary where he or she:[1]

  1. Leaves Türkiye voluntarily;
  2. Avails him or herself of the protection of a third country;
  3. Is admitted to a third country on humanitarian grounds or for resettlement.

Voluntary return remained a prominent issue and concern in the temporary protection system in 2022. In 2021, return was still high on the authorities’ agenda, and in early 2022 the government said that over 500,000 Syrians had returned home. This number was updated as 529,000 in October 2022.[2] The President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on 31 December 2022 that the Government secured an honourable and safe return for 538,654 Syrians in 2022.[3] These statements should be read with caution, however, vis-à-vis the voluntariness of returns to Syria, and re-entry to Türkiye of persons who have travelled to Syria. There was Turkish support for Syrians returning with the ‘Together we stand with Idlib’ programme to build housing. According to officials, 59,679 homes have been constructed by Turkish organisations and institutions in the Idlib, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch Operations regions. Türkiye is also building mosques, hospitals and schools in the area.[4]


Voluntariness of repatriation

The TPR does not specify how the cessation criterion of voluntary departure from Türkiye is to be assessed. In theory, when a temporary protection beneficiary indicates the intention to return to Syria, he or she is interviewed by a panel consisting of PMM, UNHCR and civil society; the latter not being applied in practice. A lawyer can also be present in the interview. The panel assesses whether return is in fact voluntary and the underlying reasons behind it. Return cases are often related to people having property or a job in Syria.[5]

Human Rights Watch reported that Turkish authorities arbitrarily arrested, detained, and deported hundreds of Syrian men and boys to Syria between February and July 2022 and urged the EU to recognize Türkiye as unsafe for asylum seekers.[8] Turkish authorities have been arguing that returns are “voluntary’ and the Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar has claimed that more than 1 million Syrians have voluntarily, safely and respectfully returned to their homes and territory after the operations in northern Syria in 2022.[9] Syrians consistently say they are being misled about the “voluntary return” forms they are being told or forced to sign, i.e. through intimidation, threats and beatings.

UNHCR continued to monitor voluntary returns in 2022.  In June 2022, the UNHCR reported that 15,149 Syrian refugees had returned to Syria voluntarily. The local authorities who control the Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salam border crossings publish monthly counts of the number of persons entering Syria from Türkiye through their respective checkpoints. Between February and August 2022, 11,645 individuals were returned via Bab al-Hawa and 8,404 individuals were returned via Bab al-Salam.[11]

Some INGOs – such as IHH – and their contractors are active in the Azzez region. Even though people are settled in the region, the conditions are quite harsh due to the extreme conditions. For instance, hospitals do not function properly; given that the lack of schools and employment opportunities in the area, Syrians do not wish to return to Turkish-controlled territories. Residing in containers is not sustainable either. Stakeholders view Turkish policy as unsustainable, and an international consensus must eventually be reached. Syrians who are deported to Syria either obtain a visa to enter Syria or are deported to Turkish-controlled territory.[12]

Where temporary protection is terminated based on cessation, PMM issues a “V87” code to mark the person as a “voluntarily returned foreigner”. The person is usually left at the border and handles the return process him or herself.[13] However, beneficiaries are not always adequately informed of the process.

Moreover, the aforementioned interview procedure is not followed in Removal Centres. Persons signing voluntary return documents – often following pressure from authorities (see Detention of Asylum Seekers) – do not undergo an interview by a panel aimed at establishing whether return is voluntary.[14] This practice remained the same in 2022.


Re-entry following cessation

It is common for refugees to travel back to Syria for administrative reasons e.g. renewal of passport, and then to return to Türkiye.[15] This policy has changed for holiday permits granted to Syrians during religious holidays. The Minister of Interior Affairs announced in April 2022 ‘holiday permits are not given and Syrians can only visit and stay at the safe zones namely, Cobanbey, Azez, El Bab and Mare. Those who want to go to Syria for the holiday will not be allowed re-entry to Türkiye.’[16]

Admission to the temporary protection regime of persons who previously benefitted from temporary protection in Türkiye but their status was ceased is assessed on an individual basis by PMM.[17] PMM is authorised to grant or deny renewed access to temporary protection status upon repeat arrival in Türkiye.

There continue to be cases of people whose temporary protection status was ceased, and who were issued a “V87” code, being unable to re-access rights upon return to Türkiye. PMM issued a Circular on 7 January 2019, instructing PDMM to lift the “V87 code” in respect of persons returning to Türkiye after having signed a “voluntary return document”, especially pregnant women, elderly persons and children, as of 1 January 2019, to allow them to re-access services.[18] The Circular also requires PDMM to provide detailed information to temporary protection beneficiaries on the legal implications of signing a “voluntary return document”.

In 2019, high requests for reactivation of temporary protection in Antakya and İzmir were reported and in 2022, it was observed that this practice has dramatically changed. Deportation for registered Syrians was deactivated, and a code called C-114 was issued. Deportations are mostly on weekends, and people sign voluntary return forms without knowing their purpose. The ‘V-87’ circular had a positive effect, but interviews for those whose temporary protection had been cancelled were held mainly for vulnerable refugees with no criminal record in Türkiye.[19]

The question of cessation has also arisen in the context of the readmission of Syrian nationals from Greece to Türkiye under the EU-Türkiye statement. An amendment to the TPR was introduced on 5 April 2016 to clarify that Syrian nationals, who entered Türkiye after 28 April 2011 and who transited irregularly to the Aegean islands after 20 March 2016, “may” be provided temporary protection.[20] PMM statistics refer to 412 Syrian “irregular migrants” readmitted by Türkiye from 4 April 2016 to 5 April 2021 – an increase of 8 persons in 2020.[21]  These returns were still suspended in 2022, as far as stakeholders were aware.




[1]  Article 12(1) TPR.

[2]  AA, ‘İçişleri Bakanı Soylu: Şu ana kadar 529 bin Suriyeli kardeşimiz geri döndü’, 20 October 2010, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/3PTApJA.

[3] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Twitter, 31 December 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3Ocdt7d

[4] MEMO, ‘Türkiye: half-million Syrians return voluntarily to their country’, 2 June 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3nA8H5n.

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

[6] T.C. İçişleri Bakanlığı, Twitter, available at:  https://bit.ly/3rue5MI.

[7] Cumhuriyet, Türkiye’den Suriye’ye gönüllü olarak dönen mülteci: ‘Türkiye’de hayat çok pahalılaştı, o yüzden dönüyorum’, 8 June 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/44GFzNi.

[8] Human Rigths Watch, Turkey: Hundreds of Refugees Deported to Syria, 24 October 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3Dgjz09.

[9] Milliyet, ‘Bir milyondan fazla Suriyeli evine döndü’, 21 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3XPRdDg.

[10] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[11] UNHCR Türkiye: 2021 Operational Highlights, available at: https://bit.ly/3yuZMIK. Page 9.

[12] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[13] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[14] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[15] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[16] Hürriyet, ‘Bayrama giden kalacak’, 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3DdNKVS

[17] Article 13 TPR.

[18] PMM Circular 2019/1 on Cessation of Status of Syrians due to Voluntary Return, 7 January 2019.

[19] Information provided by a stakeholder, May 2023.

[20] Provisional Article 1(6) TPR, as inserted by Article 1 Regulation 2016/8722 of 5 April 2016.

[21] PMM, Return statistics, available at: https://bit.ly/3wm3j97.

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