UNHCR Turkey Operational Update, January - June 2016

from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 30 Jun 2016 View Original


Over 350,000
Persons of concern received NFIs from UNHCR

Refugees submitted by UNHCR for resettlement

Non-Syrians with specific needs have been referred for assistance

Non-Syrian refugees and asylum-seekers provided with legal counselling

Officials and humanitarians trained by UNHCR on international protection

Non-Syrian unaccompanied and separated children registered by UNHCR since January 2016


US $ 345M
requested for the operation


  • Increase cooperation with municipalities to assist urban refugees

  • Strengthen outreach programmes to support the most vulnerable

  • Finalize winterization plan for the 2016-1017 winter season

  • Kick-off Syrian refugee verification exercise with DGMM


  • Turkey became the world’s largest refugee host country in 2014. As of 30 June, the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) announced that 2,733,044 Syrians were registered in Turkey, out of whom 256,300 were hosted in refugee camps, and 2,476,744 were residing in host communities.

  • In response to the unprecedented movement of people from Turkey to Europe in 2015, UNHCR and IOM launched a response plan. Following consultations with the Turkish authorities and frontline institutions including DGMM, Gendarmerie, Turkish Coast Guard, and National Police, to understand their needs and capacities, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) was launched in January 2016. The plan is a coordinated joint response with UN agencies. Due to the changing operational context, a revision of the RMRP was launched in June 2016, responding to developments, including the EU-Turkey agreement of 18 March.

  • The 15 January 2016 Regulation on Work Permits of Foreigners under Temporary Protection represents a very positive development with regard to the right to work for Syrian refugees. This is an important milestone for refugee resilience. UNHCR Turkey is collaborating closely with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and the Turkish Labour Agency in order to provide support. A firm ground was established for cooperation, and joint projects were launched in March 2016.

  • At the end of June 2016, a joint declaration of intent was signed between DGMM and UNHCR to launch a nation-wide verification exercise of all registered Syrians in Turkey. The outcome will provide the Government of Turkey, UNHCR and other appropriate stakeholders with updated information that can be used to design evidence-based programmes for targeted assistance; promote education and livelihoods, identify legal pathways and other durable solutions; family reunification; and identify and assist persons with specific needs. All of this will have a positive impact on the lives of Syrian refugees during their stay in Turkey.


Operational Context

During the first half of 2016, the Government of Turkey enacted several legislative and other initiatives that are geared to improve livelihood opportunities and assistance provided to refugees and asylum-seekers hosted in the country.

UNHCR welcomed the Government’s passing of two important regulations providing legal access to employment for Syrians and other persons of concern living in Turkey. While refugees and persons granted subsidiary protection status were already given access to work permits when they were granted status, work permits have now been made accessible for persons under Temporary Protection since 15 January 2016, and on 26 April 2016 a work permit regulation was also issued for international protection applicants and status holders. Both regulations facilitate access to work permits six months following an individual’s registration with the authorities, without any geographical or sectoral restrictions, and clarify implementation issues such as quotas.

In addition, on 18 March 2016, Turkey and the European Union reconfirmed their commitment to the implementation of their joint action plan dated 29 November 2015. The Statement included an agreement for the return of new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016. Individuals will be returned from the Greek islands to Turkey. Since the implementation of the Statement, 468 persons were returned from Greek islands on nine separate occasions.

On 21 March 2016, Turkey ratified the European Council Convention on Action against Human Trafficking. In parallel, a Regulation on Combatting Human Trafficking was issued on 17 March 2016, which regiments the principles and procedures of the services to be provided to victims as well as outlines measures for prevention of human trafficking. The Regulation also provides access to rehabilitation services to international protection applicants and status holders if they are identified as victims of human trafficking.

On 20 June, World Refugee Day, UNHCR and the Union of Turkish Bar Associations marked the occasion by signing a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing and expanding a long-standing cooperation to provide legal assistance to asylum-seekers and refugees in Turkey. Through this MoU, technical support will be provided in the field of international protection. Information sharing mechanisms will also be developed to contribute to advancing efficient delivery of legal aid services by Bar Associations. These activities will promote strengthening of the legal framework and implementation of existing legislation.