Irregular Migration in Turkey

image of Irregular Migration in Turkey

In recent years, illegal transit migration through Turkey, together with the use of Turkey’s territory as a transition post for onward migration towards the west, has become an issue of growing importance to the Turkish government. The government seeks to control and manage transit migration, often organized by criminal smuggling and trafficking international networks. This report — based on interviews with migrants, migration officials and traffickers — provides useful insights into the origins and motivations of transit migrants and their reasons for farther migration. It illustrates the workings of well-organized local and international criminal networks and discusses Turkey’s policies and efforts to manage substantial and irregular migration flows through its territory in cooperation with western European countries.



Introduction: Key questions and objectives of the study

While each State has the sovereign right to control the entry and presence of foreigners within its borders, in practice the exercise of this right has come under growing strain as millions of people cross national borders illegally and continue to remain in the country in an irregular situation. They either enter without proper documents or, having arrived legally, e.g. on the basis of a tourist visa, or having been granted temporary residence or leave of stay on the basis of an asylum claim, they subsequently often drift into illegality as they either overstay their right of entry or stay, and/or attempt to cross into another country in violation of its entry or residence requirements. Migration pressures, driven by economic and/or political deprivation, social conflict and political turmoil, continues unabated, and relies heavily on well-established worldwide migration networks. For the past decade, undocumented migrants arriving from the southern and eastern Mediterranean basin have been a particular cause of concern to the countries of southern Europe – the primary port of entry into Europe (IOM, 2000a: 198). Turkey plays an important role both as a transit country and as a source country of irregular migration flows towards Western European destinations.


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