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Refugees must first register with an NGO in Ankara called the Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants (ASAM), which then passes along their information to the UNHCR.
While refugees await an interview with the UNHCR that will determine their status, they must also register with Turkish authorities, who will then assign them to one of the approximately thirty “satellite cities” that have been appointed by the Turkish government as temporary residences for refugees.
One West African migrant I interviewed in Istanbul (I will call him Ibrahim) came to Turkey because he understood Istanbul to be a large, cosmopolitan city with ample work opportunities, and because Turkish visas are relatively easy to obtain for nationals of his country.
Now though, one year later, work opportunities have proved to be sparse, and Ibrahim is considering moving on to Europe.
Temporary protection is a category created under the new 2013 law, and can be applied by the government to any group entering Turkey in mass numbers.
Turkey also allows nationals of Iran, the former Soviet Union, and the Balkans to enter the country either without visas or with visas that can easily be obtained at airports and other entry points, making Turkey fairly accessible for certain groups of foreigners.Since the 1990s, some migration scholars and international migration bodies have begun advocating for the term “mixed migration,” meaning a recognition that the categories of “refugee” and “migrant” do not always reflect the reality of individuals’ situations.This is because a) the “root causes” of migration, such as conflict and poverty, are interrelated; and b) it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between forced and economic migrants in certain movements.Turkey has indeed sent large portions of its population to Europe, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s through guestworker programs and family reunification processes.However, Turkey also has a long history as a receiver of migrants, though this fact has been overshadowed in recent years by its emigration narrative.