Thursday, November 20, 2014

UNHCR: Frequently Asked Questions Syrian Refugees in Turkey

UNHCR Frequently Asked Questions
Syrian Refugees in Turkey
October 2013

What is the Temporary Protection regime and to whom does it apply?

The Temporary Protection (TP) regime established by the Government of Turkey (GoT) is in
line with international standards for dealing with sudden and large increases of numbers of
refugees crossing the border. Under the TP regime, Syrians are to be provided with protection and
assistance in Turkey, which includes unlimited stay, protection against against forcible returns
and access to reception arrangements where immediate needs are addressed. To date, assistance has
been systematically provided in the camps. For the non-camp refugees, the assistance is being
provided on an adhoc basis with the notable exception of access to public medical health care which
has been open to all Syrian nationals in Turkey.

All Syrian refugees are covered by the TP regime, including those without identification documents.
The TP regime also covers Palestinians from Syria and stateless persons from Syria.

Does the TP regime guarantee access to Turkey?

Access for Syrian refugees to Turkey is managed by the Turkish authorities.

Syrian passport holders may legally access Turkey without visas and there are no restrictions to
entry. They may obtain legal residence permits (ikamets) anywhere in the country, with the
exception of the Hatay and Sirnak provinces.

The admission of Syrians without passports at official border crossings is controlled by the
Turkish Passport Control Police and is generally linked to the availability of places within the
camps, with exceptions, e.g., for those requiring emergency medical treatment.

At the border points controlled by the Gendarmerie or the Turkish Land Forces, entry of Syrians is
generally restricted to wounded people. Given the restrictions at the border, many Syrians without
valid passports seek irregular entry into Turkey, some with the assistance of smugglers. Those who
enter irregularly are later able to regularize their stay through registration at one of the AFAD
Coordination Centres in southeastern Turkey. UNHCR continues to advocate with the Government for
unrestricted access to territory, and also to draw the attention of authorities to the protection
risks that Syrians face when forced to resort to irregular entry.

Can Palestinians ex-Syria also enter Turkey without a visa?

In principle, Palestinians who  seek to enter Turkey from Syria are allowed to enter the country
without a visa. The temporary protection regime specifically ensures that Palestinians from Syria
are granted the same protection envisaged for Syrian nationals. For Palestinians who arrive to
Turkey via a third country, practice to date indicates that, in the absence of a visa, they may be
returned to the third country. However, there are no reports of Palestinians
being returned to Syria.

Does UNHCR Turkey register Syrians?

UNHCR Turkey is not carrying out registration or refugee status determination of Syrians, as their
protection is ensured by the TP regime. Syrian refugees are t herefore registered by the Turkish

Syrian refugees residing in camps are registered by camp authorities, which are under the
responsibility of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD).

The Foreigners Police (FP) in satellite cities are registering Syrians who entered Turkey legally
with their valid passports and providing them with residence permits (ikamets). The FP registers
and provides ikamets in all provinces of Turkey with the exception of Sirnak and Hatay provinces.
The FP are not registering and providing residence permits to Syrians who entered
irregularly/informally and without passports.

For those Syrian refugees residing in urban areas and unable to obtain ikamets, registration is
carried out by AFAD. The registration of this caseload only began in January 2013 in Gaziantep
city, and has since begun in Nizip (Gaziantep province) and Sanliurfa province. In other locations,
such as Adana, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, and Hatay, authorities are carrying out enumeration exercises,
which are recording the presence of Syrian refugees, but documentation is not being issued to
Syrian refugees in these locations.

Where can Syrian refugees register?

Registration in camps

In each of the 21 refugee camps, the management of the camp is responsible for carrying out the
registration of the refugees prior to their placement in the camp. Registration facilities are
located within each camp. Upon registration, camp residents receive registration cards from the
camp authorities which can be used as identification documents, and which secure access to a number
of services, including medical care. Despite recent openings of new camps, the demand for camps has
surpassed the available spaces in the camps. Whether or not a Syrian refugee is placed and
registered in a camp, as well as which camp, is at the discretion of the Government  of  Turkey. 
The  general  policy  of  AFAD  is  that  there  will  be  an  orderly admission of Syrians to
Turkey for camp placement, and thus, the authorities have been prioritizing the admission and
placement of vulnerable IDPs who have been waiting on the Syrian side of the border. The
authorities have also identified vulnerable Syrian families living in urban areas for transfer to
the newly opened camps.

Syrians who are already in Turkey and wish to be placed in a camp can approach the AFAD Provincial offices and Governorate Offices to inquire about this possibility.

Registration outside of camps

Syrians who officially entered Turkey with passports are able to receive a residence permit by
approaching the Foreigner’s Department of the Ministry of Interior. While the residence fee is
waived for Syrians, they are required to pay an administrative fee for the residence permit
booklet. For all Syrians with a passport, the Government provides a one-year residence

permit and waves the residency fee. Foreigner’s Departments can be found in each city and the
easiest way to locate them is to approach the nearest police station which can guide an applicant
to the right department.

Refugees who entered Turkey through an informal border crossing and without a passport are
currently able to register in Government operated Coordination Centres located in Gaziantep and
Nizip, in Gaziantep province, as well as in the coordination center in Sanliurfa, and its branches,
which are currently operating in Akcakale, Birecik, Bozova, Siverek, Suric, and Viransehir
inSanliurfa province. The coordination centers are managed jointly by the Disaster and Emergency
Management Presidency (AFAD) and governorate authorities.

In these centres and upon registration, Syrians are issued ID cards which facilitate access to
medical assistance and other assistance provided through the sub-governorates. UNHCR is supporting the government to register the non-camp population in the southeast through the procurement  of  mobile  registration  units  which  will  be  deployed  over  the  fall  2013 (September to December 2013). In other provinces in the southeast, the local authorities are carrying out enumeration exercises to identity where Syrians are living and, in some cases, to provide them with assistance.

It should additionally be noted that a new circular on the registration of urban refugees was sent
by the Ministry of Interior on 17 September to Provincial Securit y Directorates in 20 provinces,
including 10 provinces where the camps are located, as well as Istanbul, Ankara, Konya, Mersin,
Izmir, Bursa, Balikesir, Eskisehir, Kayseri, and Antalya. The circular informs that further
coordination centres will be established in these 20 provinces, and that their staffing of
Foreigners Police will be reinforced to ensure that the registration and fingerprinting of the
urban Syrians can be carried out. UNHCR is following up with the authorities regarding their
intentions to begin implementing the plans set forth in this circular.

Coordination centre contact information

Gaziantep Coordination Centre:
Degirmicem Mahallesi
Ozgurluk Cad. Erseter Apt n. 38/A
Sehitkamil, Gaziantep
Hotline: 444 5027

Urfa Coordination Centre:
Veysel Karani Mahallesi 462 Sokak No:17 Sanliurfa Merkez
Landline (not hotline): 0414 313 7290 & 0414 314 0852

What support is available to Syrian refugees with medical needs?

Free access to medical treatment is facilitated for all Syrian refugees residing in camps.
Furthermore, on 18 January 2013, AFAD issued circular 2013/1 informing that Syrian nationals who
are not residing in camps can approach health centers or hospitals and receive medical attention free of charge. To receive medical care, non-camp refugees must approach the health centers or hospitals which are located in one of the 10 provinces that are hosting the Syrian refugee camps. These currently include: Adana, Adiyaman, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Mardin, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. The cost of the medical treatment, which includes preventive or primary healthcare, is borne by AFAD. If a Syrian has not yet been registered by AFAD, they can still approach the State Hospitals in these 10 provinces for medical treatment, at which point in time, a designated person at the Hospital will conduct a preliminary registration so that health services can be provided.

AFAD issued an additional circular on 9 September instructing that Syrians nationals be granted 
access  to  health  services  in  all  81  provinces  in  Turkey.  It  is  envisaged  that
registration will be undertaken by the medical centres and the Foreigners Police staff in all 81
provinces of Turkey. This circular expands, in principle, the previous health circular, and also
appears to be a reflection of efforts to scale up registration of urban Syrians throughout the
country. UNHCR is following up with the authorities to receive clarification on how and when the
circular will begin to be implemented.

In select pharmacies throughout Gaziantep and Urfa provinces, AFAD, in coordination with the
Chamber of Pharmacists, have arranged to cover 80% of prescription costs for medication required by Syrian refugees. Costs for the medication is borne by the respective AFAD Provincial Directorate.

Can Syrian children access education in Turkey?

According to Turkish national law, all children in Turkey, including foreigners, have the right to
primary and secondary school education. Refugees of school age residing in camps throughout 
southeast  Turkey  have  access  to  camp  schools  which  follow  the  Syrian educational
curriculum and provide instruction in the Arabic language. At the end of the education year the
children are issued a document indicating their attendance and successful completion of the school
year in the camp.

Outside of the refugee camps, Syrians of school age who have been issued residence permits can
enroll in public schools. Those who are living outside of camps and without residence permits can
attend schools as guests, without formal enrolment, or attend informal schools run by volunteer
Syrian teachers which in some areas are supported by the local authorities or NGOs.

What support mechanisms are available for unaccompanied Syrian refugee children?

Protection for all children, regardless of nationality, is ensured by the legal framework of
Turkey's Child Protection Law No. 5395. Thus, in principle, the national legal system has the
capacity to address the protection needs of Syrian children, including unaccompanied minors (UAMs).

Unaccompanied and separated refugee children who are in need of protection can be hosted in state
institutions and be provided with assistance on par with that received by Turkish citizens. Thus,
within the existing framework, contingent upon the Syrian child’s registration with the
authorities, and availability of resources and the capacity of the state, primary education,
including language training, as well as medical care, are provided.

Any Syrian UAMs identified by UNHCR or the local authorities were, until recently, referred
immediately  to  the  Turkish  Child  Protection  Agency  for  placement  in  existing  child
protection centres. However, given the increasing number of arrivals, which has had an impact on
the capacity of state institutions to continue to meet the growing needs of identified
unaccompanied children, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy is seeking alternative
arrangements to address the needs of these children under the legal framework.

UNHCR  continues to  provide guidance  to  the  authorities on  identification of the  most
suitable care arrangement that serving the specific circumstances of the child. Syrian UAMs should
be referred to UNHCR, which will follow up with the authorities on the appropriate response and

What recourse to assistance do Syrian refugees have if they are victims of a crime in

In the context of the temporary protection regime, all Syrian refugees may avail themselves of the
protection of the Government of Turkey. In practice this means t hat they may approach the
authorities, including the police, and report and seek assistance for any crime that they may
experience while in Turkey. It should be noted that while the absence of registration with the
authorities would not prevent any Syrian from approaching a police station and seeking assistance,
registration is the only way to ensure full access to protection and assistance offered by Turkey.

What is the role of UNHCR Turkey in ensuring the protection of Syrian refugees?

UNHCR has been requested by the authorities to support the temporary protection regime through the
provision of technical advice, voluntary repatriation monitoring and related activities, and to be
present in all provinces where Syrian refugees are hosted.

In southeast Turkey, UNHCR has a presence in Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Hatay. UNHCR Staff members visit refugee camps on a daily basis, speaking with appropriate camp management, AFAD, Kizilay, registration officials, managers and staff of various Ministries’ technical units. Whenever
possible, and with the consent of all parties concerned, UNHCR visits the residential areas of the
refugee camps. During the visits, UNHCR seeks to gain an understanding for the challenges and
achievements of the situation of Syrian refugees. UNHCR also documents and disseminates good
practices observed in the camps in order to advance protection standards and to find practical

What assistance does UNHCR Turkey provide?

UNHCR provides policy and technical advice to the Government of Turkey, including in the areas  of  protection  such  as  registration,  access  to  territory,  documentation  and  legal counseling
and management of urban refugee caseloads. UNHCR Turkey seeks to assist the camp authorities in
finding practical solutions to issues coming up in the camps.

In relation to material assistance, UNHCR Turkey has and will continue to provide non-food items,
such as tents, blankets, tarpaulins, kitchen sets and kitchen equipment. Most recently UNHCR has
supported the Turkish authorities to expand its registration activities for the non-camp caseload with the procurement of mobile registration units, which will be deployed to parts  of  the  country where  Syrian  refugees  are  residing,  has  procured  wheelchairs  for disabled refugees, and has supported a number of vocational training centres.

Does UNHCR Turkey resettle Syrian refugees?

With the Government of Turkey holding the lead role in responding to the international protection
needs of Syrian nationals through the implementation of the TP regime, UNHCR Turkey does not carry out registration, refugee status determination, or resettlement activities for Syrian refugees.

Certain governments have informed UNHCR of their interest in resettling Syrians from the region.
However, these governments have not yet confirmed any resettlement programs for Syrian refugees in Turkey. All Syrian refugees in Turkey continue to be covered by the Temporary Protection regime and should register with the authorities.

Currently there are no large scale resettlement programs available for Syrian refugees.

Are registered Syrian refugees and asylum seekers free to move within Turkey?

Camp managers grant Syrian refugees temporary leaves from the camps during daylight hours  on  a 
regular  basis.  For  Syrian  refugees  living  outside  of  the  camps,  a  specific permission to
go to another city/province is not required.

Can UNHCR Turkey assist refugees with family reunification procedures?

Anyone who  wishes to lodge an application for family reunification should be  in direct contact
with the relevant embassy. According to the laws of most countries, family reunification procedures
require that the family member in the third country approaches the immigration authorities there
first, in order to initiate the process. Most countries only accept family reunification requests
of nuclear family members (spouses and children below the age of 18).

While UNHCR can assist with providing information, the most efficient way for a person with a
nuclear family member in another country is for this person to approach the relevant embassy.

For exceptionally vulnerable cases brought to UNHCR Turkey’s attention, such as, for example,
unaccompanied children who may have parents residing in a third country, UNHCR Turkey has used its good offices to facilitate a speedy family reunification by liaising with relevant embassies, and
has ensured appropriate care arrangements while the children are in Turkey.

I have an urgent protection problem and need the assistance of UNHCR Turkey.

Within the context of the temporary protection regime, the Government of Turkey is responsible for
ensuring the protection of all Syrian refugees. UNHCR can be contacted to provide counseling on the
temporary protection regime.

The hotline numbers for UNHCR Turkey
(+90312) 405 80 66
(+90312) 405 81 27

Queries can also be sent by e-mail to

UNHCR Turkey
October 2013

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