Turkey + 2 more

Turkey Mediterranean and Land Border Crisis Response Plan 2020

Originally published
View original


Funding Required $3,000,000

Target Beneficiaries 150,000

IOM Vision

With the Eastern Mediterranean and Land Border routes through Turkey identified as the main route taken by migrants and refugees, IOM seeks to support the efforts of the Government of Turkey to ensure that migrants and refugees attempting to cross through Turkey receive the humanitarian protection and assistance that they need.

Context Analysis

The Eastern Mediterranean route continues to surpass both the Western and Central Mediterranean routes as the main route taken by migrants and refugees travelling to Europe, as it has done since February 2019. Since the signing of the EU-Turkey Statement and closure of the 'Balkan Route', as of March 2016, refugees and migrants have attempted to reach Western Europe through alternative paths, including overseas crossings from Turkey to Greece. Although the closure of the ‘Balkan Route’ initially resulted in a reduction in land crossing attempts, there have been significant increases in both the land and sea border arrivals from Turkey to Greece. The Edirne province remains a popular transit point for both irregular migrants and refugees who wish to enter the EU. This is due to its strategic land border between Turkey and Greece which is partly demarcated by the Maritsa River and acts as a potential entry point into the EU. The same applies to the Aegean Sea crossing where migrants and refugees are departing from Izmir province to reach Greece. The Turkish Coast Guard (TCG) identified 60,544 individuals at Turkey’s maritime boundaries in 2019 - an increase of more than 138 per cent compared to 2018 [1]. Meanwhile, approximately 62,445 refugees and migrants arrived by sea to Greece in 2019, an increase of 90 per cent from 2018 [2]. Additionally, according to the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) Turkey identified 454,662 migrants and refugees on land across the country in 2019, an increase in 70 per cent compared to 2018. In 2019, arrivals to Greece from Turkey by land numbered approximately 8,941 [3]. An increase in crossings over sea and land has continued in 2020, particularly as a result of continued instability in the region, from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran. The number of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea have also risen in the past year. IOM has provided humanitarian assistance to migrants and refugees since the onset of the crisis. In 2019, approximately 37,400 migrants and refugees rescued at sea and 2,400 migrants and refugees apprehended on land were provided with humanitarian aid by IOM, which is 61 per cent of all migrants and refugees intercepted/rescued by TCG and less than 1 per cent of those apprehended on land by Gendarmerie/Turkish National Police. Interviews with migrants and refugees by IOM’s field teams note that the increase in numbers was caused by a number of factors. These factors include the new order concerning migrants and refugees who are not registered in Istanbul to relocate from the city, increased fines to businesses who employ unregistered migrants, rising rents and living costs, and difficulty in finding jobs. Following the announcement from the Government of Turkey on 28 February 2020 that north-western borders to the EU would be opened, IOM has observed tens of thousands of migrants and refugees present in the Edirne province and at many locations on the Aegean Sea with intention of crossing over to Greece. Migrants and refugees on the move from all parts of Turkey include both single men and families with young children, with many vulnerable individuals including pregnant women, disabled, and elderly. IOM field teams have observed migrants and refugees sleeping outside exposed to winter weather with limited means to cover basic needs including food, water, clothing, and medical care. While UN, local authorities and NGOs have been providing basic supplies, existing provisions are limited, and urgent humanitarian assistance is needed to protect those lacking basic needs and exposed to dangerous winter weather conditions.

For all regional activities related to the Syria crisis, please see IOM's Syria Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan 2020.

[1] Turkish Coast Guard official irregular migration statistics in the Aegean Sea
[2] IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix arrivals to Europe figures
[3] DGMM official statistics of irregular migrants apprehended on land