Introduction in:

Barış Can Sever

The Role of Non-State Actors for Refugees in Turkey, page 1 - 6

Local Integration of Syrian Refugees in Mersin

1. Edition 2020, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4497-1, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7533-3,

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
Introduction Background While the outbreak of the civil war in Syria has displaced millions of people internally since 2011, it has also created one of the largest international human flows of this century. As a border country, Turkey undertook a prominent role and became the leading host country for the Syrians in a relatively short time period. Concomitantly, the existence of Syrians in Turkey has transformed into one of the most critical social, economic and also political challenges both for Turkey as a hosting country and the Syrians living in Turkey. Within the initial years of the crisis, volunteerism has been one of the most important factors which have mobilized many local people and stakeholders in Turkey to help the refugees and try to minimize their suffering. In a short period of time, the crisis also triggered the efforts to institutionalize migration management processes in Turkey and state-centered policies and activities have been formulated and implemented mostly with national resources and also partially with international aid. However, both due to the length of the crisis and also the comprehensiveness of the challenges, non-state actors became one of the prominent, complementary contributors to the process, in particular, for providing required humanitarian aid. In the case of the Syrians in Turkey, the prolongation of the civil war in Syria transformed the stay of Syrians in Turkey into a permanent situation and beyond humanitarian aid, the policies and activities for integration were revealed as an urgent need. In the refugee integration process, states usually play an important role. However, the state is not the only actor and there are other remarkable actors in the field (non-state actors), which are involved in refugee integration. The widest scope of the non-state actors is that all entities apart from the states can be regarded as non-state actors (San- 1 tarelli, 2013). In the case of Syrian refugees in Mersin, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), transnational corporations (TNCs), civil society organizations (CSOs), professional chambers, city councils, universities, business networks, religious communities and individuals are examined in order to reveal the role of non-state actors in refugee integration. Moreover, it is possible to observe the cooperation between state and non-state actors in respect to refugee integration. For instance, civil society organizations have been providing different types of training for the refugees to increase their employability and delivering language courses to the refugees for their adaptation and integration into social life. There have also been different types of international and national funding programs for refugee projects which are conducted with the collaboration of various non-state actors. Therefore, non-state actors are worth analyzing because of their roles in development, implementation and monitoring of the policies and activities for refugees. Aim and Content of the Research Based on this background, this research aims at revealing and discussing the role of non-state actors within the local integration process of refugees in Turkey by taking the case of the Syrians in Mersin as an example. Mersin has been one of the cities in Turkey which has been hosting a considerable number of Syrian refugees and it is one of the 10 cities in Turkey with the largest Syrian population (DGMM, 2017). The city hosts Syrians coming from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. That’s why, with the inclusion of internal factors, a variety of dynamics has been affecting the process of adaptation and integration for the Syrian refugees in Mersin. The main focus of this research is the non-state actors’ actions in the integration process of the Syrian refugees. Some selected and prominent non-state actors in Mersin were analyzed during this research due to their close contact with Syrian refugees in Mersin and their involvement in the activities for integration. Also, the discussion of the relationship between state and nonstate actors in local integration will be presented in this research. Introduction 2 Regarding the content of this research, the history of Syrian refugees’ flow is firstly elucidated with the narration of the international system and Turkey’s history related to migratory movements in Chapter 1. Afterwards, Chapter 2 discusses the theories and the concepts in relation to migration and integration. Furthermore, particular nonstate actors related to refugee integration are introduced and their possible roles in the local integration become an object at issue in Chapter 3. The last part of the research, Chapter 4 reveals the fieldwork in Mersin with its results and analyses in respect to the role of non-state actors in the local integration of the Syrian refugees in Mersin. It is also likely to present a variety of perspectives from the literature on migration and integration. The plurality of the arguments and perspectives would be beneficial in order to produce analytical research. Meanwhile, the concepts around integration could be perceived in different ways by the audience. Also, the number of related actors in the sample and their different profiles create plurality for the research. One of the significant aspects of the research will be the understanding about state-level actors, the rising role of non-state actors in the governance and management of migration and the position of nonstate actors in the center of this web. Analyzing the relations in the field, it would be an important outcome whether the non-state actors are playing the role of being complementary to state policies and implementation or other roles such as monitoring and critical position in the local integration process. For the main goal of the research, non-state actors’ roles within the integration process will be evaluated by certain parameters of integration such as health, education, legal assistance, shelter, language, employment, skills development, social and cultural aspect, and participation. Analyzing these aspects of refugee integration would be beneficial to understand the actions of non-state actors in the field. For this purpose, the fieldwork in Mersin province concerning the role of nonstate actors in refugee integration will be presented. Introduction 3 Research Questions This is exploratory research asking the question “what is the role of non-state actors within the integration process of Syrian refugees in Mersin?” Moreover, the research also has some sub-questions such as: – In what areas do the non-state actors work on the issue of integration? – How do the non-state actors implement their strategies for the integration of the refugees? – What sort of relations do the non-state actors have with the authorities and state level official institutions? – Can the activities of non-state actors be perceived as substitutive activities under the state centric structure? – What is the structure of the relationship between decision makers and non-state actors in Turkey regarding integration policies and implementation? Methodology & Data Resources This research combines both theoretical and conceptual debates related to refugee integration, non-state actors and their roles in the local integration, and also empirical analysis based on fieldwork conducted in Mersin, Turkey. The interviews were conducted with twenty non-state actors, which play a role in the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. The research specifically focused on Syrian refugees for a number of reasons. Firstly, Syrians are the largest refugee group in Turkey. Secondly, Mersin has become one of the provinces whose socio-economic dynamics are considerable in transition with the participation of Syrian refugees into local markets and social relations. According to the notes from the interview with the Mersin Provincial Directorate of Migration Management (MPDMM), while more than 150,000 registered Syrians who have been under Temporary Protection (TP) are living in Mersin, 3,900 people from 47 different nationalities registered under international protection stay in Mersin. For Syrians, being under TP Introduction 4 regime is a different process than international protection. Finally, due to the reasons stated above, most of the non-state actors’ activities in the field of refugees in Turkey are focused on Syrians. The Mersin province was selected as a field for the research based on several reasons. First of all, Mersin is one of the provinces in Turkey, which has been one of the top ten cities that host the highest number of Syrian refugees (DGMM, 2017). Also, there is a lack of research on the role of the non-state actors in the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. In addition to that, there is a lack of enough fieldwork on the issue and there is a need for analytical academic work, which does not only include the theoretical and conceptual debates but also the analyses from this fieldwork. Thereby, the exploratory research design would be convenient and supported to investigate the circumstances in the field (Research Methodology, 2017). As methodology, both quantitative and qualitative methods were applied to the research. A semi-structured interview was applied to the respondents in order to obtain quantitative and qualitative data which helped the researcher to reveal some statistics and verbal interpretations concerning the actions of the non-state actors in the local integration process of the Syrian refugees. The data were processed by the method of coding under specific themes in accordance with the responses. A codebook was established to process the data. In the codebook, the responses of each non-state actor were analysed and the most common answers were grouped as constructing the main themes. After the determination of the main themes, the responses were considered again. With the consideration of the responses by taking into account the main themes, the statistics were revealed and graphed. These inclusionary themes led to the appearance of the statistics. Also, two different ways were used to designate the research sample. First of all, the researcher formulated a list of various institutions including state and non-state actors by looking at the report of the first and foremost workshop in Mersin concerning the problems of Syrian refugees (BİAMER, 2014). In the list, there were potentially thirty nonstate actors to be interviewed. Afterwards, while the researcher was communicating with a couple of institutions from the list in the report, the snowball sampling was also applied in the efforts of reaching different institutions and individuals that have been related to the local Introduction 5 integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. During the research period, several institutions did not agree to be part of the research interview due to the delicacy of the matter. As a result, twenty non-state actors participated in the research by responding to the interview questions. The interview was comprised of several questions which were aimed at revealing the role of non-state actors in the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. While some questions were asked in order to discover the profiles of these non-state actors which helped the construction of basic statistics, there were also open-ended questions to grasp the non-state actors’ actions on the field and their opinion about the state policies and actions regarding the Syrian refugees’ stay in Mersin. Also, several questions were directed to these non-state actors in order to find out their perceptions on the Syrian refugees in Mersin. Each interview lasted almost one hour. In addition to that, the researcher interviewed the MPDMM in respect to their policies and implementation. This interview could be regarded as a supplementary element to produce an analytical work. The results of the fieldwork were assessed and interpreted by utilizing integration parameters such as housing and accommodation, health, education, legal assistance, language courses, employment, skills development, social and cultural aspect, and the participation which are derived from the sources of Ager & Strang (2008) and Spencer & Charsley (2016). In addition to that, Penninx’s (2003) work is another crucial source to evaluate the relevant categorization of nonstate actors before processing the results. Moreover, several publications of the non-state actors, statements and implementations of the authorities were analysed as other secondary data resources. These other secondary data contributed to the research by giving additional information on the process of the local integration in Mersin. Introduction 6

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In this research, the theoretical and conceptual debates on the local integration of refugees and the role of non-state actors in the integration are brought together. Their investigation take place in the nexus of migration management, the implementation of the states and non-state actors on the field. Particularly, the local integra-tion is examined through the Syrians’ stay in Mersin/Turkey. In the methodology part of this research, semi-structured interviews were applied to 20 non-state actors in Mersin (Summer 2017) in order to have an idea about the role that they have played in the local integration of Syrian refugees. In this way, while the profiles of selected non-state actors in the field were revealed, their participation and contribution to the integration pro-cess were interpreted.


In dieser Studie werden die theoretischen und konzeptionellen Debatten über die lokale Integration von Flüchtlingen und die Rolle nichtstaatlicher Akteure bei der Integration zusammengebracht. Diese werden im Umfeld des Zusammenhangs mit dem Migrationsmanagement, der Umsetzung der Staaten und der nichtstaatlichen Akteure vor Ort betrachtet. Insbesondere wird die lokale Integration durch den Aufenthalt der Syrer in der türkischen Stadt Mersin untersucht. Im methodischen Teil dieser Studie wurden zwanzig nichtstaatliche Akteure in Mersin (Sommer 2017) mit halbstrukturierten Interviews befragt, um eine Vorstellung davon zu bekommen, welche Rolle sie bei der lokalen Integration syrischer Flüchtlinge gespielt haben. Auf diese Weise wurden zwar die Profile ausgewählter nichtstaatlicher Akteure in diesem Bereich aufgedeckt, ihre Beteiligung und ihr Beitrag zum Integrationsprozess interpretiert.