Academic journal article Migration Letters

Vulnerability Leading to Mobility: Syrians' Exodus from Turkey

Academic journal article Migration Letters

Vulnerability Leading to Mobility: Syrians' Exodus from Turkey

Article excerpt


Turkey has been a stage for human mobility for many years, yet it did not have a comprehensive migration and asylum regime until recently. Being the worst refugee crisis of the last decades, the Syrian crisis actually had an impact on developing such a regime of which the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP) is a crucial element. The LFIP provides temporary protection to the Syrians in Turkey. However, it is recently observed that more and more Syrians are leaving the country. Examining their exodus, the present article is seeking answers to the question of "Why are the Syrians desperately trying to leave Turkey?" Two arguments are put forth in the article. First, Turkey's new migration and asylum regime has not been able to decrease the refugees' vulnerability because of its "expectation of temporariness". Secondly, it is argued that Turkey's "new asylum regime" is in fact "not that new" due to the fact that asylum-seekers coming from non-European countries have been provided a de facto temporary protection. The article reveals that the Syrian refugees are vulnerable in many fields mainly because they are subject to a protection regime marked by temporariness. As the regime is putting them in limbo, they are leaving Turkey. Turkey's new asylum regime appears not that new after all.

Keywords: Refugee crisis; Turkey; Syrians; temporariness; vulnerability.


Having triggered the worst refugee crisis of the last decades, the war in Syria has left almost 12 million people in desperate need of humanitarian aid (International Committee of the Red Cross, 2015). There are 7.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) while over 4 million people have taken refuge in Syria's immediate neighbours-Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq (UNHCR, 2015).1 Among these countries, due to its open border policy, Turkey has received the largest number of Syrian refugees.2 Registration process continues but the Turkish government estimates that the number of registered Syrian refugees will rise to 2.5 million by the end of 2015 (European Commission, 2015).* * 3

Migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees are not new for Turkey. The country has always been a stage for human mobility. However, since the late 1970s, it has increasingly become a destination country for asylum-seekers besides being a transit country for irregular migrants. These developments resulting in the transition of migration dynamics in Turkey created the need to have a comprehensive migration and asylum regime. Responding to this need, the new Fain on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP)4 came into force in April 2014. The recent Syrian refugee crisis has accelerated the introduction of the new law, and with its new asylum regime and institutions, Turkey has been trying to cope with this crisis.

However, the number of Syrian refugees, who leave Turkey for Europe, has increased substantially in the recent months.5 Half of the refugees (411.567, sea arrivals only) arrived in Europe in the summer of 2015 is made up of the Syrians. They either sail from Turkish coasts to Greek islands or cross Turkey's borders with Greece and Bulgaria (UNHCR, 2015a; FRONTEX, 2015; Kingsley, 10/09/2015). According to UNHCR Greece (2015), 70% of the 258.365 persons, who have arrived on the Greek islands in 2015 (January-August), were Syrians.6 The islands received 190.511 refugees only in three months (June-August) and almost all of them have arrived from - Turkey (UNHCR (08/09/2015), UNHCR Greece, 2015; Kinsgley, 14/08/2015; Sabah, 14/08/2015). The perils of the sea journey- shipwrecks with many missing and dead persons- do not deter many Syrian refugees, who, determined to take this journey at all prices, are waiting at the Turkish coasts (Yackley, 19/08/2015; Gazete Vatan, 05/09/2015). In line with these developments, this study seeks answers to the question of 'Why are the Syrian refugees desperately trying to leave Turkey? …

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