Situation of refugees in focus during OSCE PA migration committee visit to Türkiye



240524 turkiye photo 1Daniela De Ridder and Kemal Çelik visit the Turkish Coast Guard Command in Ankara, 20 May 2024GAZIANTEP, 24 May 2024 – Wrapping up a four-day visit to Türkiye, a delegation of ten members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, led by its Chair Dr. Daniela De Ridder (Germany), commended the country for its generosity in welcoming millions of Syrian refugees since 2011. At the same time, it is clear that there are a number of challenges and that Türkiye needs greater support from the international community, the delegation said.

The objective of the visit was to contribute within the OSCE PA to greater understanding of the work being done by Türkiye to support a refugee population of 3.4 million persons, of whom 3.1 million are Syrians under temporary protection. The visit also sought to draw attention to the impact of the February 2023 earthquakes.

Meeting with a wide range of interlocutors, the delegation learned how Türkiye is facilitating the access of Syrians under temporary protection and international protection holders to education, employment, health care, and other services. Challenges such as barriers in accessing legal status and labour permits, the situation of refugees and irregular migrants from other countries, vulnerable refugees – especially women – and addressing child labour and child marriage were among the many issues discussed.

The issue of returns to the so-called ‘safe zone’ in northern Syria and the urgent need for increased humanitarian support to internally displaced persons in Syria to prevent a new wave of refugees were main topics of discussion, with a number of interlocutors underlining that the conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified returns were not yet present.

The programme kicked off on Monday in Ankara with briefings by representatives of migration management authorities, various Turkish ministries and Türkiye’s Coast Guard Command. The delegation heard about Türkiye’s efforts to step up the fight against irregular migration and save lives, and to counter human trafficking and smuggling. The positive impact of improved co-operation between Greece and Türkiye on reducing irregular migration in the Eastern Mediterranean was also underlined. Conditions and due process in removal centres were debated, with suggestions from the delegation to allow greater oversight by civil society.

“Türkiye has shown remarkable hospitality in welcoming over 3.7 million Syrians and refugees from other countries,” Dr. De Ridder said. “Its comprehensive approach to migration management and high level of co-ordination have enabled it to cope with such huge numbers. Facing a serious economic crisis and the consequences of last year’s earthquakes, Türkiye needs greater support from the international community so that it can develop more flexible, inclusive and durable solutions for the Syrians as well as other persons in need of protection.”

She added that to ensure that the 1.5 million refugee children in particular have a future, it is important for the international community to share responsibility and resettle far greater numbers of vulnerable refugees and to also address the root causes of migration.

240524 turkiye photo 2OSCE PA delegation visits Adana Sarıçam Temporary Accommodation Centre, 21 May 2024The programme continued Tuesday with a visit to Adana Sarıçam Temporary Accommodation Centre, the largest camp in the country, currently hosting about 12,500 Syrians, and which includes schools, health care centres, mosques and other facilities. The delegation also met with the Governor of Adana and the provincial district governor of Sarıçam.

On Wednesday, the delegation met with provincial authorities and the mayor of Gaziantep as well as representatives of UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM and WFP as well as non-governmental organizations. It visited a container camp set up for Syrian earthquake victims in Islahiye and new housing units for the affected population of the region. The earthquake hit the areas in the southeast near the Syrian border hosting a large refugee community as well as northern Syria. Nearly 54,000 people were killed in Türkiye; a further 107,000 were injured.

“Türkiye has done its best to welcome millions of refugees but it has now reached its capacity,” Committee Member Kemal Çelik (Türkiye) stated. “The pandemic and then the February 2023 earthquakes have further added to the challenges. We need Europe to show more solidarity and to share the responsibility.”

Özgül Saki (Türkiye) also stressed the need to pay more attention to the situation of women and girl refugees and migrants, in removal centres in particular, with a focus on preventing discrimination and harassment in the labour market and addressing gender based violence.

In addition to De Ridder, Çelik and Saki, the delegation included the following OSCE parliamentarians: Committee Vice-Chairs Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus), Farah Karimi (Netherlands), Gudrun Kugler (Austria), and Members Canan Bayram (Germany), Kristian Klinck (Germany), Dimitrios Markopoulos (Greece), and David Stögmüller (Austria). This week’s trip follows a previous visit of the committee to Türkiye in May 2017. It was also intended as a follow-up to the field visit to Greece in March 2022. The committee also travelled to Lampedusa, Italy, in March 2024.

Photos of this week’s visit to Türkiye are available for public use on Flickr.

For more information on the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, please click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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