Dr. Katie Kuschminder | Talitha Dubow, Maastricht University/ UNU-MERIT; Prof. Dr. Ahmet İçduygu | Dr. Aysen Üstübici | Eda Kirişçioğlu, Koc Univeristy; Prof. Dr. Godfried Engbersen, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Olga Mitrovic, Migration Consultant

Decision Making on the Balkan Route and the EU-Turkey Statement

Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (MGSoG) | United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology
(UNU-MERIT) | September 2019

The objective of this report is to examine how the package of policies associated with the Statement influenced refugees and migrants’ decision-making in Turkey and on the Western Balkans route to Europe between 2015 and 2018. The primary research question guiding this study is: How can the fluctuations in migration flows on the Balkans route from January 2015-December 2018 be explained? The methodology for this study includes a literature review, construction of a timeline of events from 2015-2018, and original interviews with 38 key stakeholders and 96 Afghan and Syrian respondents across the four countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina (32), the Netherlands (32), Serbia (27), Turkey (41). The results of the research lead to three overarching conclusions and implications. This report is the result of the study “Fluctuations in Migration Flows to Europe” commissioned by the WODC. This study has been guided by the comments of the Advisory Committee members.

To access the summary, click here.

For full-report, click here.

Ahmet İçduygu & Enes Ayaşlı

Geri Dönüş Siyaseti: Suriyeli Mültecilerin Dönüş Göçü İhtimali ve Gelecek Senaryoları 

MiReKoc Çalışma Notları, 2019 Nisan

Geride bıraktığımız sekiz yılda, ülkelerinin dışında yaşayan yaklaşık altı milyon Suriyeli mültecinin geleceği ile ilgili akademik ve politik tartışmalar, uluslararası mülteci rejimi tarafından formüle edilen üç seçeneği işaret etmeye başladı:1 bulundukları ülkelerde entegrasyonları, üçüncü bir ülkeye yeniden yerleştirilmeleri ve Suriye’ye (gönüllü) geri dönüşleri. İlk iki seçeneğin, mültecilerin ilk gittikleri ya da mültecilerin gitmek istedikleri diğer ülkeler nezdinde yeterli bir biçimde karşılık bulamaması, geri dönüş fikrinin giderek daha öne çıktığını, bu çerçevede de bu seçeneğin hükümetler ve uluslararası kurumlar dahil olmak üzere birçok ilgili aktör tarafından teşvik edildiğini göstermektedir. Suriye’deki silahlı çatışmaların devam etmesine rağmen, farklı aktörler -mülteciler gönüllü olmasa bile- geri dönüşü savunan endişe verici bir eğilimi öne çıkarmaktan çekinmemektedirler. Bu makale ilk olarak Türkiye’deki mülteciler bağlamında ortaya çıkan geri dönüş tartışmalarına dikkat çekmekte; ikinci olarak ise geri dönüşün koşullarını bu tartışmalara ekleyerek, bugün için geri dönüşün önerilebilecek bir çözüm olmaktan oldukça uzak düştüğünü vurgulamaktadır. Bunu izleyerek, bu tartışmalar içinde mültecilerin bulundukları ülkelerde entegrasyonu ve üçüncü bir ülkeye yeniden yerleştirilebilme seçeneklerinin de uluslararası mülteci rejimi kapsamında hatırlanmasının gerekliliği savını ortaya atmaktadır.

Seçil Paçacı Elitok

Three Years on: An Evaluation of the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal

MiReKoc Working Papers, 2019 April

Since 2011, the civil war in Syria has displaced, both internally and externally, nearly 13 million people, more than half of the Syrian population. Turkey initially responded to large numbers of Syrians crossing its borders with an open-door policy (terminated by Turkey’s construction of a wall at the Syria border), and gradually came to incorporate temporary protection, non-refoulement, and humanitarian assistance into its response as the incoming flow of Syrian migrants continued. The European Union (EU)’s response to the refugee flows was mute until the summer of 2015, when the route of Syrian migrants changed course towards EU states and over a million refugees arrived in Europe The EU-Turkey deal opened a new venue within the policy debate on migration that has been present between the EU policy elite and Turkish government, and migration governance became one of the most controversial issues of our time. This paper takes its motivation from these developments and evaluates the EU-Turkey deal in its third year in a descriptive manner.

Christina Velentza

The Greek response to the refugee crisis in Eastern Mediterranean (the period of 2015-2016): An overview

MiReKoc Working Paper Series, 2018 December

The Mediterranean has become the world’s most deadly crossing point for migrants. In 2015, there were 856,732 recorded arrivals in Greece as well as an estimated total of more than 6,600 missing persons or deaths in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean routes in 2015 and first half of 2016.1 The aim of this briefing paper is to assess how Greece responded to this influx, and identify lessons for addressing situations of large scale refugee movement at a European and global level. Based on research and fieldwork in Greece, mainly in Athens and Lesbos, this paper focuses on the critical period October 2015-May 2016 which saw high flows of asylum seekers into Greece and which predates the EU-Turkey deal agreed in March 2016. The paper focuses on the ways in which the Greek government and EU struggled to address the crisis during that period, outlining the challenges of implementing sustainable solutions and efficient policies given obstacles at national and European level. In particular, it focuses on the island of Lesbos, the main entry point of refugees from Turkey to Greece particularly on the island’s reception capacity. The findings highlight the need for a more effective common asylum system in the EU that includes adequate support and assistance to frontline states, and makes some suggestions for preventing future crises in situations of large-scale arrivals.

Irena Grigoryan

Armenian Labor Migrants in Istanbul: Reality Check 

Migration Research Center, 2018

This paper is a descriptive report about the realities of the Armenian labor migrants in Istanbul. With the absence of open borders, diplomatic relations, formal economic ties and compromising historical narratives between the Armenian and Turkish states the report finds the situation of Armenian labor migrants in Istanbul to be of particular precariousness, volatility and vulnerability. The purpose of the report is to identify the gaps of knowledge and emerging patterns in the dynamically developing picture of the Armenian migrants in Istanbul. The report develops a general descriptive picture of the migrant groups, complete with analytical thoughts and notes on the collected data. Particular attention is given to the description of human fabric, settlement, employment, incorporation and social networking spaces of the Armenian migrants in Kumkapı (Fatih) and Kurtuluş (Şişli) neighborhoods of Istanbul, based on profiling check-ups of 40 migrants and semi-structured in-depth interviews of 15 migrants. The added value of this report is providing recommendations to academicians, civil society and policymakers on the need of future research and actions to address the existing information gaps and understand the development patterns of this specific community of migrants.

Birce Altıok and Salih Tosun

How to Co-exist? Urban Refugees in Turkey: Prospects and Challenges

UNESCO Chair on International Migration, Yaşar University, 2018

Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world in which 3.5 million are registered Syrian refugees under temporary protection regime with access to certain welfare provisions living in the urban settings. While the level of absorbance of refugees in such mass scale into the society is high despite high public is favour against Syrians’ presence in the country, yet, this general reception of refugees leaves open space for better inclusion of refugees and to minimize public disapproval with certain policy guidelines. This policy brief reviews and assesses public tensions both at state and societal level based on the data from existing surveys  and reports, and compares them with the data obtained from in-depth interviews with bureaucrats and Syrian refugees based on their experience in the urban space. The present paper focuses on three dimensions, which are found to be key elements in forming up the public disfavour: (1) perceived cultural and ethnic threat, (2) economic competition over resources and rights (3) ambiguous political agenda at state level. The brief concludes by providing key policy guidelines for state and civil society actors to better formulate mutual communication and understanding concerning future policies with the possibility of having a positive impact on lessening public tension with migrant communities.

Eleni Diker

FMRC Serisi: Türkiyedeki_Suriyelilerle_ilgili_Kaynakçalar_Sağlık

MiReKoc Çalışma Notları, 2018

Bu çalışma notu, Türkiye’deki geçici koruma altındaki Suriyeli mültecilerle ilgili tematik konularda yapılmış olan çalışmaların derlemelerini içerecek olan MiReKoc Zorunlu Göç Kaynak Merkezi (FMRC) Özel Serisi’nin ilk raporudur. Her dört ayda bir yayınlanacak olan çalışma notları, Türkiye’de geçici koruma altındaki Suriyeli mültecilerin durumunu sırasıyla; (1) sağlık, (2) eğitim, (3) istihdam, (4) barınma ve (5) sosyal uyum alanlarında inceleyen kaynakları bir araya getirmeyi hedeflemektedir. Bu serideki çalışma notları; belirlenen politika alanının mültecileri kapsayan çerçevesini tanımlayan mevzuata dair belgelerden, akademik literatürden, sivil toplum örgütlerinin ve uluslararası örgütlerin yayınlarından yararlanacaktır. Her çalışma notu, aşağıdaki sorulardan en az birine cevap veren çalışmaların listesinden oluşacaktır: 1) Mültecilerin bu politika alanına erişimlerini sağlayan yasal çerçeve nedir? 2) Suriyeli mültecilerin bu politika alanındaki koşulları nedir? 3) Suriyeli mültecilerin varlığının Türkiye’de bu politika alanına etkisi nedir?

Eleni Diker

Bibliographies on Syrian Refugees in Turkey : Health

MiReKoc Working Papers, FMRC Series, 2018

This is the first part in a series of five MiReKoc Forced Migration Resource Center Special Working Paper Series: Bibliographies on Syrian Refugees in Turkey. The working papers, which will be published every four months, aim to compile resources that examine the status of Syrian refugees in Turkey in five critical policy areas: (1) health, (2) education, (3) labor market (4) shelter and (5) social inclusion. They will draw on scholarly literature, publications of nongovernmental organizations and international organizations, and legislative documents defining the framework of the relevant policy field concerning refugees. Each working paper will be composed of a list of available studies that aim to answer at least one of the following questions: 1) What is the legal framework surrounding refugees access to this policy area? 2) What are circumstances/conditions of Syrian refugees in this policy area? 3) What is the impact of the presence of Syrian refugees on this policy area?

Ayşen Üstübici

The EU-Turkey cooperation on migration

7th Euromed Survey of Experts and Actors, Qualitative Analysis, March 2017.

F. Deniz Mardin

Right to Health and Access to Health Services for Syrian Refugees in Turkey

MiReKoc Policy Brief Series 2017/01 – March 2017

A Joint Research and Policy Project of the Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies and the Migration Research Center at Koç University

Moving Toward Dignity: Human-Centered Approaches for Displaced Syrians in Turkey, Jordan and Beyond

April 2016

The report is the result of a collaboration between the International Organization for Migration and researchers from a range of backgrounds and academic disciplines, and supported by the Government of Turkey. Chapter 6 Turkey part is written by Ahmet İçduygu and Sebnem Koser Akcapar.

Migrant Smuggling Data and Research: A global review of the emerging evidence base, Marie McAuliffe and Frank Laczko (eds)



Damla B. Aksel, Jenny Andersson-Pucher, Angeliki Dimitriadi, Michaela Maroufof, Maegan Hendow, Ahmet İçduygu, Ayşem Biriz Karaçay

Study on Smuggling of Migrants. Characteristics, Responses and Cooperation with Third Countries. Case Study 3: Pakistan-Turkey-Greece
International Centre for Migration Policy Development, 2015


Deniz Karcı Korfalı, Ayşen Üstübici, Helene de Clerck

Turkey: Country and Research Areas Report
Migration Research Center, January 2014


Ahmet İçduygu, Sema Erder, Ömer Faruk Gençkaya

Türkiye’nin Uluslararası Göç Politikaları, 1923-2023: Ulus-devlet Oluşumundan Ulus-Ötesi Dönüşümlere
Migration Research Center, January 2014

Ahmet İçduygu and Damla B. Aksel

Irregular Migration in Turkey
International Organization for Migration, 2012

Ahmet İçduygu

The Irregular Migration Corridor between the EU and Turkey
EU-US Immigration Systems 2011/14