Explanatory Note on Available Statistical Data on Asylum in Turkey
The compilation presented above is based on publicly available statistical data from DGMM and AFAD, as well as statistical data obtained by Refugee Rights Turkey from DGMM and UNHCR Turkey, some of which are not publicly available at this time.
It will appear from the overview that statistical data indicating the functioning of a number of key components of Turkey’s asylum system is to date not publicly available, mainly for reasons having to do with the fact DGMM is a very recently established agency still in the process of establishing full command on the asylum case load. The newly operational Provincial DGMM Directorates have so far issued a relatively modest number of status decisions, whether positive or negative, and instead targeted resources on registration of both “international protection” applicants and “temporary protection” beneficiaries. To date, DGMM has not communicated externally any statistics on either the agency’s asylum processing activities or the dispersal of the registered “international protection” applicants by province.
According to DGMM, as of 8 December 2015, a total of 134,140 persons were registered within the framework of the “international protection” procedure, the vast majority of which are applicants rather than status holders, since to date very small number of positive status decisions were issued by the agency. In addition, as explained in the International Protection chapter below, some Iraqi refugees stay in Turkey on the basis of a “humanitarian residence permit” as per Article 46 of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP). They would therefore not be reflected in the “international protection” caseload of DGMM.1
On the other hand, as explained in the following General Introduction section, persons subject to Turkey’s new “international protection” procedure also register with UNHCR Turkey, which continues to carry out refugee status determination (RSD) activities, ‘in tandem’ with the DGMM procedure, but on the basis of UNHCR’s own mandate.
As explained in the General Introduction section below, the legal significance of UNHCR’s refugee status determination (RSD) decisions under Turkish law is vague and the relationship between the DGMM “international protection” procedure and UNHCR Turkey Mandate RSD procedure is yet to be redefined in the framework of the LFIP. It is anticipated that in the near future the DGMM will gradually assert its authority as the sole decision maker in asylum applications in Turkey.
Against this backdrop, the statistical overview above presents data on UNHCR Turkey’s current RSD caseload as well as Mandate RSD status decisions issued by UNHCR in 2015, in addition to data on UNHCR-mediated resettlement from Turkey, which serves both refugees from Syria under “temporary protection” and non-Syrian nationalities subject to the new “international protection” procedure.
The total number of persons registered with UNHCR Turkey as of 31 October 2015 was listed as 235,901. For comparison, as mentioned above, the number of persons registered with DGMM within the framework of “international protection” procedure was listed as 134,140 as of 8 December 2015.
The discrepancy between the DGMM caseload figures and the UNHCR Turkey caseload figures can be explained by three factors. Firstly, the current practice on the ground is such that the vast majority of newly arrived asylum seekers first approach UNHCR. Following their registration with UNHCR Turkey, they are referred to a province where they are advised to initiate their “international protection” applications at the Provincial DGMM Directorate. Therefore, the actual initiation of the “international protection” request and the DGMM registration take place after the UNHCR registration. In practice, not all persons who register with UNHCR actually report to their assigned province to initiate their procedures with DGMM. Specifically, it is understood that significant number of Iraqi and Afghan applicants with UNHCR choose not to proceed with the subsequent DGMM registration for a variety of reasons. Secondly, most Provincial DGMM Directorates are currently overburdened by the requirements of duties regarding the registration of “temporary protection” beneficiaries. This leads to delays in the actual completion of the DGMM registration of new “international protection” applicants. Thirdly, as mentioned above, some of the Iraqi refugees who were registered by UNHCR actually stay in Turkey on the basis of “humanitarian residence permits” in accordance with Article 46 LFIP. Therefore, although they are registered with authorities, they will not be reflected in DGMM’s “international protection” caseload as such.
Regarding the “temporary protection” caseload, the compilation above presents the current registration statistics by DGMM. Although, Turkey’s “temporary protection” framework on the basis of the Temporary Protection Regulation (TPR) represents a categorical, prima facie-type approach and does not envision a formal status determination exercise, it entails an exclusion assessment as well as considerations on cancellation and cessation of “temporary protection” status, among other, which indicates that there is an implicit status determination assessment applied to persons seeking “temporary protection” in Turkey. As of present, for the same reasons outlined above, there are no publicly available statistics on any such exclusion, cancellation or cessation decisions issued by DGMM on persons within the scope of the “temporary protection” regime in place for refugees from Syria.
With regards to the “temporary protection” caseload, it must be noted that Syrian nationals and stateless Palestinians from Syria covered under the “temporary protection” regime are not registered by UNHCR Turkey except for a very small number of cases where UNHCR Turkey may undertake registration and Mandate RSD for protection reasons. Therefore, the above presented statistics on the UNHCR-registered case load almost entirely pertains to non-Syrian nationalities.
On a final note, a level of caution is advisable in evaluating whether all persons registered with DGMM in Turkey either as “temporary protection” beneficiaries or within the framework of the “international protection” procedure are actually still present in Turkey. In the current practice, while “international protection” applicants are subject to regular reporting requirements by the Provincial DGMM Directorates, there is no mechanism in place to probe and establish whether “temporary protection” beneficiaries continue to stay in the province where they registered. Particularly, in light of the significant increase in irregular crossings from Turkey to EU over the Greek islands throughout 2015, it can be safely assumed that a fraction of the registered “temporary protection” beneficiaries may no longer be present in Turkey. That said, it should be observed that the ongoing irregular transit movement of Syrian refugees over Turkey entails both refugees who may have been previously registered in Turkey and refugees recently arriving from Syria and other host states in the region and therefore never intended to register as “temporary protection” beneficiaries in Turkey.
- 1. There are no publicly available statistics on the number of Iraqi nationals currently registered with DGMM as “humanitarian residence permit” holders.