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Syrian Refugees in Turkey: Insecure Lives in an Environment of Pseudo-Integration


The intention of Syrian refugees to return home are fading as the conflict in Syria shows no sign of abating. Even if the violence does subside, the country faces a destroyed infrastructure, and the road back to the everyday life many Syrians once knew seems ever more distant. This means that Turkey, as the major host country of Syrian refugees, must now develop practical actions towards providing them with better settlement and integration opportunities. Steps towards granting citizenship have been hinted at by President Erdoğan, pointing to the fact that Syrian refugees may share the same fate as other cases of communities who have suffered from protracted displacement, proceeding through stages of admission, settlement, integration and naturalisation. However, the far-reaching implications of the current crisis require “responsibility sharing” on an international scale. A major step forward has been the deal between the EU and Turkey, but the stress of such a large number of refugees on Turkey’s young legal system on immigration and asylum, and limited resources, as well as the government’s ability to follow its own procedures and live up to the standards of a “safe third country” are now coming into question on the international stage. This paper examines these questions and refers to the paradoxical conditions in Turkey that contemporaneously reflect the deep-rooted limitations of its existing protection capacity and the emerging policies towards the integration of refugees.

Paper presented at the seminar "The Humanitarian Dimension of the Refugee Crisis in Turkey: Challenges and Prospects", held in Istanbul on 22 July 2016 and organised by Stiftung Mercator, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), and Istanbul Policy Center (IPC) within the framework of the project "Turkey, Europe and the World: Political, Economic and Foreign Policy Dimensions of Turkey's Evolving Relationship with the EU".

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