Turkey’s unique geographic position straddling Europe and Asia has contributed to its increasing role as both a destination country and a transit country for migrants and refugees to reach Europe. Bordering countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, Bulgaria and Greece and Turkey have over 30 land border crossing points. With over 2,600 km of land borders and a coastline that spans 7,200 km, the Government of Turkey has called upon IOM Turkey to assist in addressing complex and multifaceted border management challenges.
With the increasing mobility of persons and goods, countries need to address the challenge of ensuring the right balance between open, but at the same time secured and controlled borders. Comprehensive and well-functioning border structures enhance security and encourages legitimate cross-border flows of people and goods.
Since 2005, IOM Turkey’s border management projects have worked to further develop legal, institutional and managerial structures and capacities to support the Government of Turkey in strengthening border management policies and structures in line with international best practices. IOM Turkey’s border management team also works with local border management authorities, notably police, customs, coast guards, land forces and gendarmerie, to strengthen technical expertise, infrastructure and cooperation among Turkey’s border agencies.
The main priorities of the team are:
- Supporting Turkey to enhance its border and migration management structures and procedures
- Supporting Turkey to reduce irregular migration and other cross-border crime such as trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling
- Supporting Turkey to facilitate regular migration and to strengthen the protection of migrants' rights
- Building capacity in the field of humanitarian border management
- Enhancing international cooperation and supporting harmonization of national policies and practices within regional contexts towards common international norms
Regional cooperation is critical for effective border management and therefore a particular current focus for the team. IOM Turkey and the Government of Turkey are working with Greece and Bulgaria in an attempt to find the most comprehensive solutions for the region. IOM Turkey facilitates cross border programs to increase cooperation and capacity for Turkish, Greek and Bulgarian border officials at the national, regional and the local level. Joint training, workshops and study tours provide the means to improve cooperation, return and readmission practices, investigation techniques, human trafficking and detecting forged travel documents.
Integrated Border Management was developed by the European Commission to address cooperation at the service, national and international levels.
Counter Migrant Smuggling and Human Rights
Another important focus for the team is supporting the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) to ensure human rights are upheld in migration procedures in the country, specifically in Removal Centres. Throughout the country, Removal Centre Staff is trained in human rights, fair practices and strengthening administrative capacity to ensure migrants are treated fairly during interactions with the authorities.