In This Article Syrian Refugees in Turkey

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Settlement and Integration of Syrian Refugees in Turkey
  • Effects of the Syrian Refugees on Turkey
  • Online Resources

Social Work Syrian Refugees in Turkey
Ahmet İçduygu, Eleni Diker
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0256


The unanticipated mass migration of Syrian refugees to Turkey began in April 2011. Six years on, as of May 2017, according to official figures, there are nearly three million Syrian registered refugees in the country. The initial encampment policy of the Turkish government failed to serve as a sustainable solution for sheltering refugees. Only 9 percent of the refugees are accommodated in camps dispersed across the southeastern parts of Turkey whereas the remaining 91 percent are living in cities throughout the country. Amendments to national immigration and asylum policies gained momentum with the arrival of Syrian refugees. The introduction of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection in April 2013 brought about major changes and clarified the status of Syrians as “persons under temporary protection,” who were until then referred to as “guests.” Later in October 2014 a clear definition of the rights and obligations of temporary protection beneficiaries was set out with the introduction of the Temporary Protection Regulation. In the first years of the conflict, the policies of the Turkish government asserted the temporariness of the refugees based on the presumption that the crisis would end and the refugees would return home. In early 2016, the state approach began to shift toward long-term planning with policies including the introduction of the work permit regulation for Syrians, the decision to gradually phase out Temporary Education Centers with Syrian curriculums to integrate Syrian children in Turkish schools, and the establishment of Migrant Health Centers staffed by Syrian medical professionals. While the national response has been adequate, with state and nonstate actors taking active roles in addressing the immediate needs of the displaced persons, the International Response has been disappointing. Due to the restrictive border policies in Europe and the limited chances for resettlement, many Syrians decided to self-settle by taking the dangerous sea route to Europe, most notably in 2014 and 2015. This movement was somewhat precluded by the controversial 2016 EU–Turkey deal that stands as an unsuccessful attempt at responsibility sharing. The Syrian refugee issue is related to a wide range of areas including the rights and lives of Syrians, integration prospects, the impact on the host society, state policies and responses, and acceptance by the host community. Yet there is still only limited academic work in the literature. Besides academic publications, this bibliography also identifies resources produced by specialized agencies and other relevant digital resources and databases in order to contribute to a general understanding of the issue.

General Overviews

The works cited in this section descriptively report the issue of Syrian refugees in Turkey with an overarching approach. The circumstances faced by Syrians and the societal attitude toward them change constantly as do the numbers and regulations. Therefore, the publications in this section are listed in chronological order in order to draw attention to the dynamic nature of events. The publications of Özden 2013 and Dinçer, et al. 2013 belong to the first wave of studies that examine and discuss the migratory movements of Syrians and their living conditions in Turkey between 2011 and 2013. Kirişci 2014, İçduygu 2015, Kirişci and Ferris 2015, and Çorabatır 2016 provide rich descriptions of how the Syrian refugee crisis evolved and emphasize the need to recognize the permanence of refugees in order to craft a comprehensive and well-thought integration strategy. The report published by International Crisis Group 2016 is distinctive, as it contextualizes the displacement of Syrians within the internal political context of Turkey.

  • Özden, Şenay. 2013. Syrian refugees in Turkey. MPC Research Reports 2013/05, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. Migration Policy Centre. San Domenico di Fiesole. Florence, Italy: European Univ. Institute.

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    The author covers many topics including the flight stories of Syrians from Syria to Turkey during the first years of the Syrian civil war, camp conditions, Employment of Syrians, their impact on the Turkish economy, and the assistance of nongovernmental organizations to Syrian refugees. The fieldwork of this research is limited to the provinces of Gaziantep, Kilis, Islahiye, Hatay, and Istanbul.

  • Dinçer, Osman Bahadır, Vittoria Federici, Elizabeth Ferris, Sema Karaca, Kemal Kirişci, and Elif Özmenek Çarmıklı. 2013. Turkey and Syrian refugees: The limits of hospitality. Washington, DC, and Ankara, Turkey: Brookings Institution and International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

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    Presents an overview of the refugee situation in camp and non-camp areas, voices concerns and recommendations on the legal framework, examines the impact of Syrian refugees on Turkey, and calls for international solidarity in burdening the crisis.

  • Kirişci, Kemal. May 2014. Syrian refugees and Turkey’s challenges: Going beyond hospitality. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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    This valuable report is a follow up to Dinçer, et al. 2013 and it provides a historical overview of the refugee inflows in Turkey and discusses the evolution of the Syrian refugee situation. The author emphasizes the need to focus on the long term and address integration-related issues such as Education and labor market integration rather than emergency aid and also underlines the lack of support from the international community.

  • İçduygu, Ahmet. April 2015. Syrian refugees in Turkey: The long road ahead. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.

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    This report traces the evolving legal framework for migration and asylum in Turkey and analyzes the changing policy approaches toward migrants and refugees with an emphasis on the need to increase coordination among stakeholders and shift toward long-term planning for the Syrian refugees. It is argued that the humanitarian efforts of the Turkish government should be divorced from its foreign policy objectives in Syria.

  • Kirişci, Kemal, and Elizabeth Ferris. September 2015. Not likely to go home: Syrian refugees and the challenges to Turkey—and the international community. Turkey Project Policy Paper Number 7. The Center on the United States and Europe. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute.

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    The report offers similar coverage to Dinçer, et al. 2013 and Kirişci 2014 and presents the evolving refugee situation in Turkey between October 2013 and September 2015 by focusing on the challenges faced by the government in responding to the crisis; integration prospects of the refugees; their impact on Turkish society, economy and politics; and the urgent need for international responsibility sharing.

  • Çorabatir, Metin. 2016. The evolving response to refugee protection in Turkey: Assessing the practical and political needs. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.

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    The report chronicles the history of the events leading up to the development of the temporary protection regime that is designed exclusively for the refugees fleeing from Syria to Turkey. It reviews the responses of state and nonstate actors as well as the international community to the Syrian crisis.

  • International Crisis Group. 2016. Turkey’s refugee crisis: The politics of permanence. Europe Report No 241. November 30, 2016. New York: ICG.

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    The report explores the situation of the Syrian refugees in Turkey within the framework of the internal political realities and the bureaucratic scramble following the failed coup attempt in July 2016. It examines the potential implications of the changing social fabric of the country and focuses on three main integration-related areas: education, employment, and citizenship prospects.

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