location: istanbul, turkey
date: october 2012
The topic of migration and refugees in the context of the Istanbul Metropolitan Area has a long history, is complex but also in need of more focused attention. THP’s initiative to organise an Expert Consultation in cooperation with Bilgi University’s Center for Migration Research provided a platform for a select group of representatives working in the field in the presence of international experts and representatives from the national and local government. The event was an illustration of the state of migration and refugee policies in the Turkish context. Reflective of the situation in Turkey was the emphasis on refugee issues and the absence of domestic migrant organizations.
Officials from the Ministry of the Interior (Department of Asylum Affairs) explained how timely the consultation was as preparations for a new legislation on asylum were ongoing. The draft law would open the way to Turkey meeting most of the requirements set by the EU short of the lifting of the geographical limitation to the 1951 Geneva Convention.
To get an international perspective on migration trends, and to consider these trends in the context of regional issues around migration, THP introduced international representatives who highlighted the connection between urban challenges on migration and refugees and the role of the business sector. Discussions explored a number of topics ranging from security considerations to perceptions, irregular migration and the labour market. Against the backdrop of an economy that for a significant part is informal, emphasis was put on the context of urban poverty and the need for protection.