Human-Centered Migration Policies

Savaş Ünlü
Dr., Director General of Migration Management

Having become a target country in recent years for immigration- which essentially began with the history of humanity- Turkey has faced significant migration flows due to its geography and strategic location and has gained significant experience in this area. The Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), being a structural manifestation of this historical experience and accumulation, was established on April 11, 2013, with the Law on Foreigner and International Protection (#6458) and became operational in government centers in 2014 and in all provinces in 2015. The Directorate General of Migration Management is the institution responsible for the entry, stay and exit of foreigners in Turkey. In this context, the main areas of responsibility for the DGMM are the management of regular migration, contending with irregular migration, establishing an effective international protection mechanism, combating human trafficking through activities of mutual harmony and communication, and protecting victims.

Hosting 3.6 million Syrians following the events experienced in Idlib and facing increased pressure each year from irregular migration in coming to 2020 after 2019 when Turkey focused on adaptation activities and struggled with irregular migration, Turkey declared it would not force foreigners who want to leave the country to stay, stating that as of February 27, 2020, it had been abandoned by the international public, the European Union in particular, on resolving the Syrian crisis and the issue of asylum seekers and refugees. After this statement, an intense influx of migration occurred from various provinces to the border regions of Edirne, in particular Pazarkule, through the free will of foreigners. This humanitarian movement has been one of the Directorate General’s main agenda items in 2020.

In this process, the teams of the Directorate General have extended a helping hand in cooperation with non-governmental organizations and public institutional organizations 24/7 to foreigners who have been aggrieved due to interventions unbecoming of human dignity toward foreigners arriving hopeful at the borders of the European Union, which has emphasized human rights at every opportunity. Various measures have been taken in this context, especially on health and safety, for groups concentrated in border regions from the date when the influx of migration started, and provisions for humanitarian aid such as food, clothing, hygiene kits, and blankets have been distributed in collaboration with non-governmental organizations. Measures have also been taken against all kinds of infectious disease risks by sanitizing the environment in the region in which 350 healthcare personnel have been employed for the purpose of meeting the necessary health services.

“Taking the necessary health measures for both staff and foreigners” was also added to the agenda of the Directorate General, which has had intense contact with foreigners alongside the first COVID-19 case being seen in Turkey on March 11, 2020, after the events in Edirne. In this context, cleaning, disinfection, hygiene material supplies, and information activities have been carried out within the scope of combatting COVID-19 in the service areas of the Directorate General, particularly in the Temporary Accommodation Centers (GBMs) where Syrians are hosted under temporary protection and repatriation centers where irregular migrants are held in administrative detention.

Irregular migration flows have continued despite measures such as closing the borders and reducing international mobility due to the pandemic. For this reason, struggling with irregular immigration and push-back cases occurring with Greece’s inhumane behavior in the Aegean have continued to maintain their priority on the 2020 agenda of the Directorate General.

Meanwhile, necessary administrative measures have also been taken toward foreigners without prejudice to their rights and obligations within the scope of temporary protection and international protection excluding those with special needs, chronic illnesses, or in need of treatment for the purpose of preventing the inconveniences that may arise in terms of public health since the beginning of the pandemic.

Of the foreigners under temporary protection, currently 58,905 people in need are being accommodated in the 7 Temporary Accommodation Centers (GBMs) located in the provinces of Adana, Kilis, Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, and Osmaniye; family members and possible contacts of positive cases seen in these centers are quarantined in isolation areas formed in the GBMs. Alongside this, GBMs are regularly disinfected, information brochures have been distributed to the residents, on-duty personnel are obligated to use masks and gloves, thermometer checks are made at the entrances, risk groups (especially foreigners who are above the age of 65) are not allowed to leave the premises, tasks are distributed among the personnel to meet the needs of this group, and other necessary measures are taken in coordination with provincial health directorates. 

Collaborations with international organizations have again been increased in the pandemic, with one-time assistance in the amount of 1,000 TL being provided to 11,648 households receiving cash assistance in GBMs on April 24, 2020, in order to effectively deliver international funds to those in need and foam beds, linens, and blankets in UNHCR warehouses being sent to temporary accommodation centers; in addition,  cash assistance in the amount of 1,000 TL per household has been provided to 80,630 households (378,319 persons) of foreigners within the scope of international protection and temporary protection apart from those in GBMs. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has continued to sustain collaboration efforts for being able to provide cash assistance of 1,000 TL per household to a total of 15,000 more households.

In line with Turkey’s historical background, at the point reached after 2020 as a year that challenged all sectors, all the jobs and transactions of foreigners in the field of migration within the framework of national and international legislation will continue to be conducted in line with human-oriented national policies.

We use cookies to help us deliver our services.    More Info