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Turkey: access to territory and border trends - August 2018

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Safe access to territory is a pre-requisite to ensure that persons in need of international protection are able to seek and access protection. Maintaining and strengthening access is essential to ensure that all those seeking asylum are afforded the opportunity in a safe and dignified manner.

Partnership with Border Authorities to support safe access to protection

UNHCR continues to strengthen its cooperation with the Turkish Coast Guards, the Gendarmerie General Command, Turkish Land Forces and the national institutions in charge of management of the borders of Turkey. This cooperation extends to the central and the local levels to monitor trends, promote protection-sensitive border management and promote referrals to the relevant procedures and assistance for persons in need of international protection.

UNHCR is operational, with the support of six partners, along the western land borders and in the western and southern coastal areas (Edirne, Balikesir, Canakkale, Izmir, Mugla, Aydin, Antalya and Mersin), to work with national stakeholders and to assist refugees and asylum-seekers by providing humanitarian assistance in the form of non-food items, interpreter support, support the identification and referral of persons with specific needs, and provide information and counselling to persons with protection needs on relevant procedures.

UNHCR works closely with the Gendarmerie General Command to strengthen technical know-how and skills in responding to mixed migratory movements. The aim is to increase awareness and responsiveness of Gendarmerie units to persons with different protection needs in line with international principles and the national legal framework.

In this framework of cooperation, a series of joint field visits are undertaken to the border regions in 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018 where the majority of arrivals are observed. Per the frequency and scale of the cross-border movements, six locations in Eastern and Southeastern borders of Turkey were visited (Hatay in December 2017 and Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Igdir, Erzurum,
Van in 2018). These joint visits aim to identify trends, needs, and challenges at the field level to inform on the response mechanisms in view of protection principles. The Gendarmerie General Command and UNHCR organize comprehensive training events targeting Gendarmerie personnel from various locations, including border areas, on international refugee law. A total of 185 Gendarmerie personnel participated at the workshops. To ensure an inclusive, multi-disciplinary approach, the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), the prosecutor’s offices and the national police are engaged in training events.

UNHCR’s Protection Training Manual for European Border and Entry Officials, which is designed to facilitate the training of border and entry officials on the rights of refugees and asylumseekers in the context of mixed migration movements, was translated into Turkish language and serves as a training tool.

In addition, UNHCR developed a Guidance Handbook on Irregular Migration and International Protection for Gendarmerie Command staff operational in the field, which was published and shared by the Gendarmerie General Command with Gendarmerie personnel in the field to promote consistent implementation of standards and compliance with principles in operational engagement.