Migrants and Refugees Increasingly Choosing Turkey as Final Destination, Flow Monitoring Survey Finds


IOM’s latest Flow Monitoring Survey in Turkey shows that a majority of migrants and refugees leaving their countries of origin have reported Turkey as their intended destination at the time of departure from their country of origin, especially for Syrians.  

The Survey published on 11th June interviewed 3,173 migrants and refugees in 14 Turkish provinces during the period of 11 December 2017 and 11 February 2018. Those interviewed were from the four highest foreign nationalities present in Turkey: Syrians, Afghan, Iraqi, and Iranians. All nationalities cited war and violence as main reasons for leaving, with a higher number of Afghans citing economic reasons. The majority of Syrian respondents (86%) reported Turkey as their intended destination at the time of departure from their country of origin or habitual residence, followed by Iraqi (68%) and Afghan (64%) nationals. The lowest was among Iranian nationals (29%).

“With the continuation of the Syria Crisis and ongoing instability in the region, it is not surprising that migrants continue to risk their lives in search of better opportunities for them and their families. Turkey has served as a transit and destination country for decades, mainly as a passageway to Europe. However, recent trends have revealed that migrants are opting to remain in Turkey because of the limited options to continue their journey,” says Bekim Ajdini who manages IOM’s Flow Monitoring Survey in Turkey , funded by the US Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration

The top three reasons for choosing Turkey as the intended destination country included safety, appealing socio-economic conditions, and ease of access to asylum procedures. The presence of relatives in Europe, Canada or the United States was negatively associated with the probability of choosing Turkey as the intended destination at the time of the interview for Afghan, Syrian, and Iraqi nationals.

Survey results highlighted that the average age of migrants and refugees arriving in Turkey ranged from 28 to 35, with over half of respondents being male. The highest share of adult females was among Syrians at 52%. Less than three percent of respondents were children.

Regarding literacy and education levels, survey respondents who reported Turkey as their preferred destination country were less likely to report having completed higher education across all nationalities with the exception of Iranian nationals. The largest difference was among Afghan respondents, among which 5% of those who reported Turkey as the intended destination at the time of the interview reported having completed higher levels of education, in comparison to 14% of uneducated respondents who choose Turkey as the country of intended destination.

As Turkey grapples with hosting an existing 3.8 million registered foreign nationals, migrant flows across its eastern borders are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. IOM is supporting the Turkish government at all levels in developing its capacity to manage migration and provide services for migrant and refugee communities. Some of these initiatives include assisting local government and municipalities to implement programs that assist with the harmonization of migrants in Turkish society.