Conclusion in:

Barış Can Sever

The Role of Non-State Actors for Refugees in Turkey, page 105 - 110

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
Conclusion Migration has been a phenomenon in various disciplines of the social sciences through the ages. Due to the diversified reasons for the migratory movements, individuals and communities have constantly been changing their places on the planet. While some of these migratory movements are dependent upon the voluntary tendencies and rational individual choices, other types of migrations could be caused by coercive factors. On the one hand, motivations for voluntary migrations in recent times are generally comprised of educational targets, family reunions, and searching for a better life standard in another country. On the other hand, forced migration in recent times which would generate numerous refugees around the world, has been caused by the factors such as wars, conflicts, poverty, risk of persecution, social exclusion, and the impacts of climate change. It has been the fact that the case of Syrian refugees is a type of forced migration which has been caused by the Syrian civil war which started in 2011. Since 2011, a gradual increase in violence and the spreading of the war in Syria brought about flows of Syrian refugees into other countries, particularly neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. In particular, Turkey quantitatively became the leading country which has been hosting more than 3 million Syrian refugees. Although there has been international humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugees and various funds for refugee projects in the host countries, the international community has been regarded as failing to respond to the humanitarian crisis in milestones and significant points. While the debates on unfair allocations of Syrian refugees among countries have been carrying on, the Syrian refugees have kept struggling in their new living spaces which do not have proper conditions. Even though some of the refugees have been trying to keep their migratory movements, some of them have started to settle into their new community. Thereby, the debates around the refugees’ future, particularly the ultimate integration with the local communities, have started 105 in the host countries. On the contrary, a part of the host societies who believe that the refugees will go back to their countries, was not in favor of the integration process and its prospective outcomes. Moreover, due to a new experience in the society with more than 3 million refugees, both individuals and institutions were not ready to face with the realities of this circumstance. Also, the new phenomenon in the communities of the Turkish provinces caused confusion at both societal and state levels in respect to legal and social matters. The debates mentioned above motivated the researcher to investigate the integration process of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Specifically, it was aimed at investigating the role of the non-state actors in the local integration process of Syrian refugees. For the field study, Mersin province was selected because it is one of the top ten Turkish provinces in respect to the numbers of Syrian refugees as residents. Before identifying the field, the researcher recognized the lack of investigations in Mersin concerning the role of non-state actors in the local integration process of Syrian refugees. Although most of the non-state actors working in the area of migration have also been involved in the refugee integration process since 2014, there have been a few studies on this subject. Thereby, the investigation could be regarded as filling the research gap in respect to the local integration of Syrian refugees and relevant actors in Mersin. In the research, theoretical and conceptual debates on migration and integration have an important position before revealing the fieldwork results and analyses. Deriving from the nature of social sciences, particularly migration and integration issues, the relevant concepts have been explained comparatively by stressing their relative features. In other words, one may perceive a concept of migration and integration in another way besides the researcher’s perception. However, the concepts were explained using their basic definitions given by the competent international organizations such as the UNHCR and the IOM. Thus, elucidation of the concepts related to the migration and the integration of refugees has illuminated the path towards the process of integration while analyzing the results of the fieldwork. Furthermore, the theoretical debates on international migration and on integration of refugees were explained in this thesis not only to provide a theoretical perspective but also to present a theoretical and Conclusion 106 conceptual background for the field study. The integration parameters, which helped the researcher to analyze the fieldwork results, were a part of the theoretical understanding regarding refugee integration in the local areas. In the case of Syrian refugees in Mersin, the programs and activities of the related non-state actors clustered under these parameters, namely sheltering, health, education, legal assistance, skills development, employment, social and cultural aspect, and participation. It was revealed in the field research that a considerable number of the non-state actors in Mersin have been focused on the area of education of the Syrian refugees, particularly refugee children. In addition to that, theoretical and conceptual perspectives related to the non-state actors in the international system and migration management, and their roles in the refugee integration were incorporated in the research. The fieldwork results were also analyzed through the lenses of these perspectives. The researcher identified the relevant actors under a categorization-typology of various non-state entities such as INGOs, TNCs, CSOs, city councils, religious communities, professional chambers, universities, business networks, and individuals. Before the presentation of the possible roles of the non-state actors in the refugee integration, the conceptual debates related with these nonstate actors were presented by defining all actors, indicating their positions in the local governance and examples from past and on-going experiences. Concerning the evolution of the international system and global governance, it was argued that the non-state actors have been more active and competent in the world politics and they have been increasingly included in the decision and policy making processes. Thereby, the non-state actors have also been expected to play a significant role in migration management and refugee integration. When it comes to the overall results of the field study, the results mainly demonstrate that the involvement of the non-state actors in the refugee integration process varies by different methods and contents. Elaborately, while some of these non-state actors have remotely been managing the activities for the refugees, the others have been directly involved in the practices. Apparently, most of the non-state actors are working in their areas of expertise which lead them to be part of different works. Also, in response to several questions in the interview, both the state level actors and non-state actors emphasized the inadequacy Conclusion 107 of institutional capacities relating to the high number of refugees. Thereby, due to the high number of refugees and the limited capacities of actors in the field, further cooperation among authorities and nonstate actors is revealed as a necessity of the process for all parties, including related institutions, the local community, and the Syrian refugees in Mersin. Otherwise, the willingness of various actors in the integration process and their reliance on successful integration may be diminished in due course. More specifically, there has been a symptom of cooperation between the state and non-state actors for the refugee integration in Mersin. However, according to many respondents, the cooperation in the field must be enhanced in order to consolidate the integration process of Syrian refugees. One of the prevailing reasons for the willingness of these non-state actors to advance the cooperation is that most of the non-state actors comprehended the transformation of the Syrians’ situation from “temporary stay of Syrian ‘guests’” to “permanent stay of Syrian refugees”. In addition to that, after 2013, the growing numbers of Syrian refugees caused the mobilization of many non-state actors in Mersin to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees and work for their integration. Also, even though the non-state actors in Mersin have mostly been working for the integration of Syrian refugees, several actors have maintained working in the area of humanitarian assistance. Concerning the attempts to integrate the Syrians in Mersin, most of the non-state actors were identified as having the role of being complementary to state policies and implementations. However, due to several reasons such as the lack of funding, insufficient budgets and inadequate staff and capacity in the organizations, some of the non-state actors have been cramped in the fieldwork. Last but not least, the research revealed that the presence of a conflict is not likely to prevail among the state and non-actors but the communication between these actors needs to be improved in order to respond to the necessities and conduct the integration process in favorable ways. Also, many actors on the field have been expecting to see the formulation of rational and legal regulations concerning the refugees in order to make things certain, appease the concerns of the local people, and render the integration process sustainable. Otherwise, a Conclusion 108 part of non-state actors does not anticipate a favorable integration process in Mersin. This research can be a resource for the non-state actors and the authorities for deriving possible recommendations and solutions on the integration process of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Also, the research can encourage and lead to academic debates on the issues related to local integration, relevant actors and other aspects of refugee integration in Turkey, which have not been adequately studied yet. Moreover, the field study can provide an example and model for further research on particular provinces in Turkey, which have been hosting a considerable number of Syrian refugees. Conclusion 109

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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.