Evaluation of the Common European Asylum System under Pressure and Recommendations for Further Development (CEASEVAL)

Researchers: Ahmet İçduygu, Damla B. Aksel

Funder: Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)

Overview: Since 2015, migration towards and within Europe has created a ‘stress’ in the EU asylum and migration systems. This migration situation has challenged the adequacy of the design of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and national asylum systems, it has impacted the implementation of these systems in practice, it has politicised the discourses about migration in Europe, it has led to a reintroduction of borders, and it has questioned the issue of solidarity within and between Member States and the relationships of the EU with neighbouring countries. Considering the obvious malfunctions of the CEAS which have been exacerbated in the context of the so-called ‘migration crisis’ in Europe since 2015, CEASEVAL will carry out a comprehensive analysis of harmonization which goes beyond the formal institutional setting and takes into account the complex formal and informal relations among the actors engaged at the different levels. CEASEVAL will apply a multilevel governance approach to identify and evaluate the factors which can explain the success and failure of coordinated action between varied actors (EU institutions, EU Member States, non-EU states, local institutions, while also taking into account public opinions, media representations and political actions, as well as ‘irregular’ migrants, asylum seekers and refugees), in order to comprehensively and innovatively reassess the CEAS in terms of its framework and its practice.

Destigmatization strategies of Syrian refugees in Turkey (2017-2019)

Principal Investigator: Çetin Çelik 

Funder: Koc University Seed Fund

Overview: The study of minority groups’ destigmatisation strategies are revealing when it comes to ethnic stratification, socio-economic segregation, and the possible courses of migrants and refugees’ adaptation. Although Turkey—with its restrictive citizenship policies, not grating refugee status to those who are from non-western countries—is characterised by robust ethnic boundaries, the destigmatisation strategies of its minorities have been ignored so far. Using a case study of Syrian refugees from different socioeconomic backgrounds, this research project aims to fill this gap in the literature. Through desk study and in-depth interviews, it investigates how Syrian refugees from different socioeconomic backgrounds assert moral status in the face of large scale negative stereotypes and stigmatization by the dominant group. The findings of the project will enhance our academic knowledge of the issue and empirically substantiate social policies that address the integration of the Syrian people.

Turkey’s State Policies during the Mass Refugee Inflows: The Cases of Inflows from Bulgaria (1989), Northern Iraq (1991) and Syria (2011-2015)

Principal Investigators: Ahmet İçduygu, İlke Şanlıer Yüksel

Researchers: Birce Altıok, Eda Kirişcioğlu

Funder: TUBITAK 1001 Program

Overview: The total number of people forcibly displaced has reached its highest number since World War II.  Out of the nearly 43 million displaced, over 11 million of them are refugees, meaning they have crossed an international border.  Furthermore, the majority of these refugees, approximately 86 per cent, are being housed in developing countries.  Mass refugee flows are not only putting a strain on state capacities, but it is highlighting the apparent flaws in the national and international legal and administrative regulations, which is incompatible to deal with mass refugee flows.  Among tens of countries who are hosting millions of refugees, today, Turkey officially houses the highest number of refugees in the world.  With the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011 and Turkey’s generous open-door policy, over 1.8 million Syrian refugees have found a safe haven in one of Turkey’s 22 camps and across towns and cities scattered throughout the country.  However, as is well known, this is not the first time Turkey is facing a mass influx of refugees into its territories.  The inflows of almost 350,000 refugees from Bulgaria in 1989 and up to 500,000 people from Northern Iraq in 1991 are still very much ingrained in Turkey’s collective memory. However, till date, a comprehensive comparative analysis of these three mass influxes within the framework of Turkish state policies is non-existent.   It is the objective of this project to fill this gap by conducting a comparative analysis of three main refugee influxes into Turkey: The Bulgarian influx of 1989; the 1991 influx from Northern Iraq; and the ongoing 2011-2015 Syrian influx. The comparison of these three cases illustrates some glaring differences: While the Bulgarians were deemed to belong to ‘Turkish descent and culture (soydaş)’ under the Settlement Law (iskan kanunu), the Kurdish case from Northern Iraq highlighted the need to provide temporary protection.  The Syrian refugee crisis has not only forced the Turkish state to provide temporary protection, but since it is becoming a protracted (i.e. long-term) case, issues regarding integration are becoming a dominant theme. This comparison will concentrate on the changing dynamics and mechanisms of migration and asylum policies in Turkey over the past thirty years: the question of how the nation-state-based national and global processes change or resist to change during the heyday of globalization will be discussed with this comparison.

The novelty of this project is three-fold: It will provide the first comprehensive comparative analysis of three major refugee influxes in Turkey, making a significant contribution to the growing literature on mass refugee movements and state responses.  Secondly, by comparing previous experiences and practices during mass inflows, the project will be able to positively inform policy-making decisions regarding the current Syrian refugee crisis and future cases of mass inflows.  Finally, the analysis will shed light onto the limitations of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the prevailing national and international regulations that ground on this convention by providing individual protection rights to refugees through the process of refugee status determination which is incompatible to deal with today’s mass refugee movements.

Ultimately, the project seeks to determine the patterns, similarities and differences in Turkish state perceptions, practices and policies during these three major refugee influx periods. By relying on a solid comparative methodological approach, the project will gather qualitative and quantitative data through (1) secondary literature and data to build up an empirical and theoretical framework (2) discourse analysis of Turkish Parliamentary Debates (3) news analysis of major newspapers (4) in-depth interviews with key government/bureaucratic officials.

Integration and Well-Being of Syrian Youth in Turkey

Researchers: Ahmet İçduygu, Ayşen Üstübici, Maissam Nimer, Amal Abdulla

Funder: TUBITAK and British Council

Overview: The joint project with London School of Economic (LSE) aims at assessing the needs of youth whose status is shifting from refugee to immigrant as a result of the prolonged conflict, and at developing concrete organisational and policy suggestions for social and economic integration. Almost all field studies indicate that as the war continues, Syrian citizens in Turkey are being transformed from temporary refugees to permanent immigrants, investing and planning for a future in this neighboring country. The research will specifically focus on one of the most vulnerable groups within the refugee population: youth whose futures are being put on hold. Children below the age of eighteen constitute approximately half of the refugee population. We will focus on the group between 15 and 30 years of age, a time when one would ordinarily be planning for the future, including  transition from education to labour market, marrying and building a family. Many in this age group would have attended university and started a professional career in Syria. The project will assess their backgrounds, including educational level and skills; their educational, work, and health needs; and their visions of the future. Outputs of the project will include a gender-based analysis of refugee youth needs in terms of education, labour market and health;  a mapping of the institutions that youth use to access opportunities; and concrete recommendations for harnessing the human capital represented by youth in Turkey and for responsibility sharing in Europe.

Local-Integ: Refugees and Local Integration

Principal Investigator: Ayşen Üstübici, Researcher: Ezgi Likya İrgil

Funder: Koc University Seed Fund

Overview: This is a project on local integration of migrants and refugees. Due to Syrian conflict, Turkey is currently the country hosting the highest number of refugees in the world. Realizing that some of newly arrived refugees may settle in Turkey in the long run, integration has slowly entered into the policy agenda in Turkey. As distinct from overwhelming majority of policy oriented research on the subject undertaking macro level analysis on border policies and Turkey-EU relations, the research promises to look at the local integration policies, practices and patterns. The research proposal brings together the literature on migrant incorporation and forced migration by focusing on the question of local integration in the case of migrant and refugee communities in Istanbul. The empirical research will reveal how local authorities (district governors, district municipalities, local civil society) have responded to the arrival of Syrian refugees and of other migrant and refugee groups in the absence of concrete integration policies at the national level. By means of content analysis of policy documents and expert interviews, the research will first analyze whether and to what extent integration issues in the sense providing services, access to rights or facilitating incorporation of newcomers in socio-economic life have entered into the policy agenda of local authorities. In relation to this, focus groups will be conducted to reveal how newly arrived migrant and refugees communities, along with older/settled communities experience integration through access to basic rights and services at the district level taking into account formal and informal incorporation mechanisms and how service providers locate themselves in these emerging discussion of integration, rights, social justice. The empirical research will compare two districts in Istanbul. The findings will be triangulated with best practices identified in the literature to make concrete policy recommendations to improve local governance of international migration. The focus on local integration will provide a case to reflect on broader questions of social cohesion and social justice.

Forced Migration Resource Center

Researchers: Eleni Diker, Damla B. Aksel, Lara Savanije

Overview: Forced Migration Resource Center at Koc University (FMRC) is an online platform established by Migration Research Center at Koc University (MiReKoc) in partnership with Vehbi Koc Foundation (VKV). The platform draws together a diverse collection of reliable and accurate resources concerning forced migration in general and Syrian refugees in particular. The center provides online and free access to anyone – that is, individual researchers, universities, civil society organizations, international organizations, policy makers, media, and displaced persons themselves seeking information into issues related to forced migration and asylum. The primary aim of FMRC is to increase the research capacity of all state and non-state actors working in the field and enhance inter-institutional communication among civil society, academia, policy-makers and international organizations addressing the issue of forced migration. It also aims to prevent the information pollution and regulate the overload of information in the field.

MobileWelfare: European Welfare Systems in Times of Mobility

Researchers: Ayşen Üstübici, Eirini Giannarakis, Ezgi Likya İrgil

Overview: MobileWelfare is an international research project on migration decisions and experiences with welfare arrangements of people living in European countries. Project teams in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Turkey are involved in the project. The MobileWelfare project consists of three components, each with their own focus and approach. In the first component, it is investigated whether a link exists between welfare arrangements and mobility patterns in Europe. For this, quantitative migration data is used. In the second component, the view people have of welfare arrangements in countries where they live now and have lived in the past is studied. For this, interviews are conducted with migrants in the six participating countries, but also with people who never migrated, and people who returned to their country of origin after having lived abroad. Lastly, in the third component it is studied what the role of legislation is for mobile people and how it affects welfare arrangements across Europe. The MobileWelfare project runs for three years between 2015 and 2018 and received funding from Norface (a collaboration between research agencies across Europe).  MiReKoc is an associate member of the project, meaning that MiReKoc is a member of the consortium but not a receiver of Norface funding. The project is run by own resources.

Website: www.mobilewelfare.org

The Effects of Social Class on Academic Achievement: Family – School Relations

Principal Investigator: Çetin Çelik


Overview: This project focuses on the reproduction of educational inequality across the generations. It aims to understand how socioeconomic background characteristics such as parental education, occupational status, income and migration background influence students’ academic achievement in three different schools longitudinally in process. The project employs Bourdieusian social capital approach and aims to understand relationship between social class and educational achievement through informal parental network structure.

Strategic Transitions for Youth Labour in Europe (STYLE)

Researcher: Çetin Çelik

Funder: European Union 7th Framework for Research

Overview: This project aims to examine the obstacles and opportunities affecting youth employment in Europe. It includes 25 research partners, an international advisory network and local advisory boards of employers, unions, policy makers and NGOS from over 20 European countries. It specifically compares the patterns of labour market transitions of youth in typical welfare state models. The project has a sharp focus on studying and mapping potential dimensions of disadvantageousness in school to labour market transition such as migration, gender and social class.

Website: http://www.style-research.eu/team/cetin-celik/