Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings in:

Barış Can Sever

The Role of Non-State Actors for Refugees in Turkey, page 67 - 104

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
The Case of Mersin and Findings In this chapter, the fieldwork (Summer 2017) in Mersin province concerning the role of the non-state actors in the refugee integration will be presented. Particularly, the integration process of the Syrian refugees in Mersin is the focal point of the research in respect to the local integration. For the field research, Mersin province was selected due to a number of reasons. Firstly, Mersin is one of the top ten Turkish provinces regarding the numbers of Syrian refugees, which reached more than a hundred thousand by 2017 (DGMM, 2017). There are also various non-state actors in Mersin, which have been actively working in the field. Due to the density of Syrian refugees in Mersin, most of the actors directed attention to Syrian refugees. Also, it was noticed that the role of the non-state actors in the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin as a research topic have not been given enough attention as a research topic yet in spite of the on-going efforts in the province. In light of this background, field research and the remarks from this province was considered as a potential contribution to the analytical academic work on the subject by enriching the existing the theoretical and conceptual debates. The research included quantitative and qualitative methods. In order to derive meaningful statistics and interpretations from the results of the field research and to grasp the data in both quantitative and qualitative ways concerning the activities of non-state actors for Syrians’ local integration in Mersin, a semi-structured interview model was prepared and implemented. The research sample was formulated by applying two different and subsequent methods. Firstly, a list of various institutions including state and non-states actors was determined by looking at the report of the first and foremost workshop in Mersin concerning the problems of Syrian refugees (BİAMER, 2014). Afterwards, while the researcher got in communication with a couple of institutions from the list in the report, the snowball sampling was also Chapter 4 67 applied as to reach different institutions and individuals that have been related to the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. During the field research, some of the representatives from the invited institutions did not prefer to participate in the interviews due to their personal reasons and hesitations to participate in a survey. Twenty non-state actors were included in the research sample and they became part of the interview research. The interview questions were designed to explore the role of the non-state actors in the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. While some questions were purposed to reveal the profiles of these non-state actors, several openended questions were included for reaching various remarks and insights on the non-state actors’ actions in Mersin (Please see the Appendix for the list of questions). Also, several questions were asked to participants in order to explore their perceptions on the Syrian refugees in Mersin. Each interview lasted almost one hour. Moreover, an interview with the MPDMM was conducted in order to have a general overview about their policies, activities, and their relations with non-state actors in Mersin. This interview could be regarded as a supplementary element to the researcher who has been in an endeavor to produce an analytical work concerning the subject. Historical Background of Mersin In this thesis, the role of the non-state actors in the local integration of Syrian refugees is examined in the scale of Mersin, which is one of the portal cities of the Turkish Republic that is geographically located on the south coast of Turkey, 300 kilometers away from the border with Syria. 4.1. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 68 Main Migration Route of the Syrian Refugees from Syria to Mersin Source: html The Location of Mersin on the Map of Turkey Source: Mersin is one of the major cities in Turkey that has a metropolitan municipality. The metropolitan municipality was established in 1993. Ayata (1999) indicated that the process of being an urban place of dwelling units in Mersin started in the midst of the 19th century (Ayata, 1999: Figure 4. Figure 5. 4.1. Historical Background of Mersin 69 199). It is also known that the city has been home to various civilizations throughout history from Hittites to current communities (Ayata, 1999; Develi, 2008). Furthermore, Mersin has an important geographical place in the East Mediterranean region which has become one of the most important hubs for maritime commerce. The presence of the port in Mersin is crucial for the city, its economic activities, and the employment. It was underlined that the development of a global economy as an external factor highly affected the emergence of the city whose port allowed for the expansion of commercial capacity and developed relations with other port cities (Ayata, 1999; Aytar, 2016). Due to the trade activities via Mersin port, the city became one of the prominent commercial centers as the city of a periphery country in the global capitalist system (Aytar, 2016: 45). It could be argued that rising economic activities after the construction of the Mersin port and the development of the city have gone hand in hand. In addition to that, the city also hosts different peoples who have ethnically and religiously diversified backgrounds and have been living in Mersin for a long time. Thereby the city has generally accepted foreigners due to the family ties, social and cultural affinities, and the culture of tolerance. Also, it carries the heritage of many different civilizations throughout history. As a result, Mersin has always had the label of being a cosmopolitan city which has been compared alongside cities such as İstanbul and İzmir (Ayata, 1999: 201). Moreover, due to the geographical proximity, family ties, commercial connections, and Mediterranean culture, many Arab people especially from Syria and Lebanon have been coming to Mersin for a variety of reasons. The city has had its peculiar dynamics which has readily hosted people from outside. It was unfolded that the Christians such as Greek Orthodoxes from the Islands and Cappadocia, and Arab Orthodoxes from Syria and Lebanon are the first migrant residents of Mersin (Erjem, 2009: 33). There were also Arab Alawites along with these first migrants. Migration has always been a part of Mersin’s history through the periods from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic when the city has hosted many people who had different backgrounds of religion and ethnicity. In the official annuals of Mersin, the presence of various Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 70 groups such as Jews, Muslims, Rums, Orthodox Greeks, Armenians, Gregorian Armenians, and Protestants have been indicated (Bozkurt, 2012: 23). The Muslim population is comprised of Turks, Yuruks, Turkmens, Circassians, migrants from Crete Island, Arabs, and Iranians (Ayata, 1999: 201). As an anecdote, a neighborhood in Mersin has been called “Migrant” (Göçmen) due to the Circassians’ migration to this neighborhood in Mersin. In addition to that, it was emphasized that Mersin has been one of the cities which is constantly growing because of letting in immigrants (Ayata, 1999: 200). Particularly, it has become an immigrant-receiving city as it started with a forced internal migration of people -mostly Kurds- from the southeastern part of Turkey around the 1980s. Since the beginning of the forced internal migration, people have constantly moved to Mersin because of internal displacement and family ties (Erjem, 2017: 5). Concerning the migratory movements, Mersin was reported as an immigrant city rather than an emigrant one (Erginöz et al., 2004). Mersin’s position as being an immigrant city throughout history did not show a counter-trend in the recent past. Rather, the city pushes the limits of its reception capacity with the flow of Syrian refugees. Also, the city has become more plural in respect to the participation of the Syrian people into the existing cosmopolitan city. The next part will be focusing on the Syrian refugees in Mersin before revealing the results from the field and analyzing them in accordance with the integration parameters. Syrian Refugees in Mersin Before the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, many Syrian people were visiting Mersin with different aims such as commercial activities, family reunions and holidays. However, when it comes to the beginning of war, the picture of Syrians’ arrival to Mersin sharply changed. At the beginning, the war was held in certain areas of Syria. That’s why, a fewer number of people escaped from Syria to Turkey. The escape was not like a phenomenon in Mersin as it happened in other regions of Turkey. Both the society and the government in Turkey could not foresee the prolonged and brutal war in Syria which has 4.2. 4.2. Syrian Refugees in Mersin 71 still been going on with the inclusion of big powers on the international arena for a long time. At the initial phase of the migration, middle and upper class wealthy families moved to Mersin as they had their own properties such as house, car, etc. (Reidy, 2016). Some of them were even able to maintain their businesses from Mersin. Around the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, with the rising intensity of the war throughout all of Syria and the spreading presence of ISIS, mass influxes started to flee from Syria to Turkey, particularly to close towns bordering Syria including Mersin (Hurriyet Daily News, 2015). In Mersin, the estimated number of Syrians refugees reached 300 thousand and the Syrian refugees in Mersin have been comprised of a diversified population concerning socio-economic conditions. According to the official numbers revealed by the DGMM, Mersin has been one of the top 10 provinces in Turkey as hosting 154,610 registered Syrian refugees under Temporary Protection (DGMM, 2017). The relevant graph which was published by the DGMM will be displayed below: Syrians Under Temporary Protection (TOP 10 PROVINCES) Source: DGMM (2017). Figure 6. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 72 The influxes that started around the end of 2013 were unpredictable for the local communities and governments, and the central authority in Turkey. Many people and institutions were caught unprepared. Due to family ties, trade relations, cultural and geographical proximities, Mersin has become one of the cities in Turkey to host many Syrian refugees. On the other hand, Mersin was distinguished from other cities in the region with noticeable Syrian refugee communities such as Kilis, Şanlıurfa, and Gaziantep. Atlı (2016) explains this situation by emphasizing that it is related to the fact that “Mersin has become a magnet for richer Syrians with capital and business plans” (Atlı, 2016). A joint report of ORSAM and TESEV (2015) also indicated that merchants and investors from Syria have been moving to Mersin particularly due to the presence of the port and the sea as attractive factors (ORSAM- TESEV, 2015: 8). According to statistics, Mersin has always been in the top ten cities which have hosted the most Syrian refugees. The profile of Syrian refugees in Mersin is highly diversified. There have been obvious differences among the Syrian people regarding their socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. While a part of the Syrian population was settling in the city center which contains the neighborhoods of middle and upper classes, some of them located in the periphery of the city as they worked for very low wages in the industrial and agricultural sectors. It was reported that the Syrian refugees mostly include Sunni Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens (Orhan & Gündoğar, 2015: 32). Also, a small number of Christians and Arab Alawites were already seen as staying in Mersin during the war. The dispersed population throughout Mersin was also diversified concerning daily life problems. The population living in the periphery struggled to survive as they were located far away from the services which were mostly present in the city center (Görendağ, 2016). A few of the non-state actors have been in touch with this population since they settled in the periphery of the city. On the other hand, the population living in the city center has had their own networks which provide solidarity and information circulation among the people and Syrian civil society organizations in Mersin (Hurriyet Daily News, 2015; Reidy, 2016). Comparing the population living in the periphery, these people have been relatively able to reach the non-state actors and Mersin Provincial Directorate of Migration Management. 4.2. Syrian Refugees in Mersin 73 Concerning the perception of local people in Mersin, many people were reported as being anxious and having skeptical perceptions on the Syrians’ stay in Mersin (Orhan & Gündoğar, 2015; Mersin Siyaset, 2015). Also, with the permanency of the Syrians’ stay, tensions between the Syrian refugees and the local people are becoming more apparent. For instance, a tension in the Adanalıoğlu neighborhood of Mersin entailed the evacuation of the Syrian refugees from this place in 2017 (CNNTürk, 2017; Mersin Portal, 2017). On the other hand, in spite of increasing skeptical repercussions in Mersin, a remarkable number of non-state actors which include Turkish, Syrian and international non-governmental organizations and other various entities have been involved in the humanitarian assistance and integration practices in collaboration with the authorities at some points (Mersin Ticaret ve Sanayi Odası, 2015; Sever, 2017). To be able to understand the role of these non-state actors in Mersin which have been trying to provide integration of the Syrian refugees, a comprehensive analysis of the results from the field research will be revealed in the following parts of this research. Overall Findings and Analysis In the field research, the interviews with twenty non-state actors were conducted in order to find out the role of the non-state actors within the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. While the non-state actors were designated, the snowball sampling was applied in order to reach relevant non-state actors by utilizing the networks of selected non-state actors and individuals. The list of the interviewees will be displayed below: Profile of Designated Non-state Actors in Mersin in the Field of Migration Non-State Actors Type of institution 1 Certified Translator N.B. Individual 2 Mersin City Council City Council 3 Mezitli City Council City Council 4.3. Figure 7. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 74 4 Mersin University Regional Monitor and Application Center (BIAMER) Research Center in University 5 Mersin University Migration Studies, Application and Research Center (MER-GOC) Research Center in University 6 Mersin Chamber of Medicine Professional Chamber 7 Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry Professional Chamber 8 Mersin Catholic Church Religious Community 9 Mersin Djemevi Religious Community 10 Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) Civil Society Organization (CSO) 11 Mersin 7Renk LGBTI Education Research and Solidarity Association CSO 12 Mersin Mediterranean Rotary Club CSO 13 YUVA Association CSO 14 MAYA Association CSO 15 Mersin Users of Organized Industry Zones Association (MORSKUD) CSO 16 The Sandal of Liberty Association CSO 17 Syria Social Gathering CSO 18 SEQUA International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) 19 Social Services Directorate in Mersin Metropolitan Municipality Local Municipality Unit 20 Mezitli District Governorship Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation CSO Under Local Body According to the statistics which are demonstrated in Figure 8, forty percent of non-state actors interviewed for this field work are comprised of civil society organizations which have been engaged in the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. Professional chambers, university research centers, religious community, and city councils each constitutes ten per cent of the participant institutions. The international non-governmental organization is having a place by five percent of all selected non-state actors in the research. All non-state actors in the interview study, also including municipality units and the Assistance and Solidarity Foundation were identified and selected for this study based on the “typology of non-state actors” which was explained in the previous chapters of this thesis. Moreover, the actors’ ability to design and implement activities for refugee integration independently 4.3. Overall Findings and Analysis 75 from the state level actors was taken as major criteria for the selection process. Types of Non-state Actors in the Research Another question in the interview was aimed at revealing the particular features of these non-state actors (duration in the fields, activity areas, funding, etc.) specific to their works in the sphere of refugee integration. In this regard, while five of these actors have been working in these areas less than a year, eight actors have experience for more than a year but less than three years. Also, seven of these actors have worked more than three years in the field. The data demonstrates that involvement of these actors to the process developed in parallel with the increasing flows of Syrians in Turkey and permanency of their stay. The percentages are available in Figure 9 below: Figure 8. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 76 Experience in the Field In addition to that, the numbers of staff working in the field of migration and integration in these institutions were inspected by the researcher. Eleven non-state actors which have fifty-five percent of the total amount, have employed a maximum of five personnel. The actors who have more than five personnel in different ranges could not surpass the limit of fifty percent. This shows that mostly small scale nonstate institutions are involved in the process in Mersin regarding the recruited staff for the refugee integration works. Figure 10 demonstrates all percentages together: Number of Staff Working in the Field of Migration Figure 9. Figure 10. 4.3. Overall Findings and Analysis 77 Furthermore, another question was asked to find out the sources of the funds which have been utilized by the non-state actors for their activities in the field. Firstly, two of them indicated that they had not used any funds until now. Apart from that, other actors reached different types of funds’ sources which contain particular donors, international institutions, states, their own institutional budgets, other types, and all of them. As a prominent example in the field, SEQUA, which was one of the respondents of the interviews, is a type of mediator which contributes to the vocational skills development projects by having agreements with various actors in Mersin and providing the allocations of the funds given by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany. The percentages of the results regarding this question are revealed below: Funded by Whom? While fourteen non-state actors do not have any branches in the organization structure related to the issues, six of them have several branches in respect to the refugee integration. The percentages could be seen below: Figure 11. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 78 Any Branches? A set of questions were also asked to reveal how the non-state actors have been communicating with the Syrian refugees, when they started to get in touch with the refugees, and whether the organizations contacted the refugees at the beginning of their flows. Regarding the communication methods, eight actors use both methods of direct and indirect communication with the Syrian refugees. Six of them expressed that they were directly communicating with the refugees and the other six participants declared that they indirectly got in touch with them. As an example, MAYA which is one of the CSOs in the research indicated that: “We first went to the living areas of Syrian agricultural laborers who were living in tents in order to contact them. We have some friends in our organization who know Arabic. They had one-to-one dialogues with the Syrian refugees. That was our way of communicating with the Syrians. Apart from that, we also contacted some refugees in our neighborhood.” At total, fourteen non-state actors have had dialogues with the Syrian refugees through their own employee or they individually have got in touch with them in a common neighborhood. The others mostly use mediators out of their organizations or announcements for their communication. The percentages can be viewed below: Figure 12. 4.3. Overall Findings and Analysis 79 How to get in touch with refugees? Furthermore, another goal in this question was to find out when the actors started to engage with the Syrian refugees in Mersin. Only six non-state actors have engaged with the Syrian refugees since the beginning of their flows into Mersin. Due to various reasons, others started to communicate with the Syrian refugees later than the beginning of their flows. Figure 14 will show the percentages of this situation. In addition to that, the reasons for the late communication with the Syrian refugees were investigated later. The responses merged into three main headings. The most given answer was that the migration of Syrian refugees was not perceived as a big phenomenon at the beginning. Another response which is numerically very close to the first one, was that the organizations or their projects were not ready to be activated at the beginning of the refugee flows. However, a few of these actors indicated that they did not expect the war to be prolonged and impossible return of the Syrian refugees. Regarding the communications started later than 2011 and the permanency of Syrian refugees in Mersin, MER-GOC stated that: “The rising numbers of the refugees and the idea of their permanent stay in Mersin prompted our communication with Syrian refugees. We started to ponder their harmonization to the society, economy and politics in Mersin, and their possible roles and positions in Turkey and the world in the future.” Figure 13. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 80 Figure 15 will demonstrate the percentages of the responses to the last sub-question. In touch with refugees since when? Why got in touch later than the beginning of the refugee flows? Figure 14. Figure 15. 4.3. Overall Findings and Analysis 81 Another issue of concern was the cooperation among various actors on the field. The concept of cooperation in this research can be defined as the common work or permanent communication of the relevant actors in the field in order to share information and experiences. According to the responses, only two selected non-state actors have not been involved in any cooperation yet. While seven non-state actors have at least once cooperated with several non-state actors rather than the state actors, two actors only collaborated with the state actors. Also, nine non-state actors associated with both the state actors and the nonstate actors regarding the matters of Syrian refugees’ local integration. Concerning the situation above, the Mersin City Council is an interesting example. The participant from the Council expressed that: “We have been in cooperation with all actors in Mersin. We are an umbrella organization. The CSOs have generally been contacting us. Also, many other actors have got in touch with us. When they inform us about various circumstances of the Syrian refugees on the field, we move to the field in order to make observations and assessments.” Figure 16 will take a place to present the percentages below: Cooperation with whom? Moreover, another question was put forth to discover the target groups of the non-state actors in their works for the local integration. As a result, children were in the forefront as nine different non-state actors Figure 16. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 82 have worked for their integration. As only focusing on the children, the Mersin Mediterranean Rotary Club stated that: “We visited several schools in Mersin. These schools were located in the neighborhoods where the Syrian refugees mostly live. By giving support to the refugee children and their families in respect to clothing and health, we wanted to make their educational life sustainable. Also, we tried to determine their needs and meet these needs with our own sources. Several members of our club conducted medical screenings, particularly dental and eye screenings, of the children.” The next leading group is women as seven various non-state actors stated that they took action for them. Thirdly, it was revealed that five non-state actors have been working for the integration of young refugees. On the other hand, the options such as the ones for LGBTİ+ people, other disadvantaged groups, and others remained weak. Lastly, five non-state actors contributed to the process as working for all of these groups. The percentages will be displayed below: Target Groups of Their Activities Afterwards, a question was asked to learn about the sources of their information which are utilized by the non-state actors in their works about particular issues such as legal changes, the conditions of the Syrian refugees, and the relations between the Syrian refugees and the local community. According to the results, most prominent sources appeared as the reports, observations, fieldworks and surveys, and expe- Figure 17. 4.3. Overall Findings and Analysis 83 riences respectively. In addition, institutional experiences, international sources, other option, and all of them came after the most prominent sources above. In respect to this, the chart is given below: What sources are to be utilized? As the analyses of these overall findings, a salient result in the proportion of non-state actors in the research could be indicated that a number of civil society organizations dominate the activities of non-state actors in Mersin. Apart from the civil society organizations, the other non-state actors are almost equal in respect to their numbers. Moreover, the inquiry on the duration of non-state actors in the field demonstrates that most of these selected non-state actors were relatively experienced entities in the refugee integration due to their long duration in the field. However, some of them prepared or joined in the integration activities once or twice in this long period. In addition to that, most of these non-state actors have had modest capacities as they could only employ up to ten people while a small number of non-state actors have had more than ten people in the organization. Thereby, the lack of staff in these organizations has the possibility to affect the efficiency of the integration process. Not only the lack of staff but also the problem of funding and budget is likely to influence the efficiency of the integration process since a considerable number of these actors has Figure 18. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 84 been using their own limited budgets or once utilizing the funds for the projects. Also, almost the same ratio of the non-state actors, which had direct and indirect ways of communicating with Syrian refugees, shows that non-state actors could reach them by having a variety ways of linkages. This could enlarge the sphere of refugee integration by including the Syrian refugees, the employees in non-state actors, and the mediators. As another result of the field study, many non-state actors intended to get into touch with Syrian refugees later than the beginning of their flows. This is due to several reasons but mainly related with thinking Syrians’ flows as a temporary movement at the beginning and then becoming more aware about the permanency of their situation in the years following 2011. For instance, changing perceptions of non-state actors could bring about the change in minds that non-state actors realized the prolonged war and impossible returns. Another important remark of this part is that even though there have been few problems among the relevant actors regarding their communication, most of the non-state actors indicated that they have already cooperated and are also eager to cooperate with both state level actors and each other in order to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees and to work together in the integration process. To sum up, the overall findings related to the profiles of the nonstate actors are given in this part before analyzing the role of the nonstate actors in the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. This information can be useful in order to understand the characteristics of the non-states actors that are involved in refugee integration activities in Mersin. The following part will be focusing on the role of these nonstate actors in the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin by taking “integration parameters” as a basis. Integration Parameters and The Role of Non-State Actors The parameters in the process of refugee integration were discussed and listed in the previous chapters of this study. These parameters are (i) housing and accommodation, (ii) health, (iii) education, (iv) legal assistance, (v) language courses, (vi) employment, (vii) skills develop- 4.4. 4.4. Integration Parameters and The Role of Non-State Actors 85 ment, (viii) social and cultural aspects, and (ix) participation. They are crucial for two major reasons. Firstly, the parameters listed in this research can draw a sustainable path for the policy-makers and the relevant actors on the field. Also, the parameters can be measuring elements for the analyses of the refugee integration process. Thereby, based upon the parameters given by the researcher in Chapter 3, the role of the non-state actors in the local integration of the Syrian refugees will be investigated in this chapter through the primary data derived from the field study in Mersin. Housing and Accommodation As it was indicated in one of the previous chapters, housing and accommodation play an important part in the structural elements of the integration process. In the case of Syrian refugees in Mersin, several questions in the interview allow finding out the roles of the non-state actors in respect to housing and accommodation. While six non-state actors have been taking part in the matters of housing and accommodation, almost all of them have played a complementary role to the state policies, activities and its shortcomings at some points. For instance, the representative of the Mersin Catholic Church indicated that: “We have been contributing to the settlements of the Syrian refugees by finding them houses and paying the bills for them by using our own resources and using our own networks.” The monitoring role has only been played by the Mersin City Council, which submit their reports to the AFAD, the Governorship and the MPDMM by observing the housing and accommodation conditions of the Syrian refugees. Due to the nature of this parameter, the non-state actors mostly contributed to the part of humanitarian assistance which could be perceived as a beginning step of the integration process. According to epitome of the responses from the field, housing and accommodation in this case is comprised of helping refugees find accommodation, paying the bills, transferring them to another place after a natural disaster in Mersin, and giving them blankets as domestic utensils. 4.4.1. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 86 Health Health is another structural aspect of the integration process. The sustainability of a successful integration could not be provided without health services to the refugees and unhealthy individuals. Among participants of this research, eight non-state actors indicated that they were involved in various ways in the efforts and activities for health issues of the Syrian refugees. According to the results, these ways of nonstate actors’ involvement in the health area include supporting patients with guidance and consultancy, psychological support, vaccines for the children, medical observations and preparing reports, medical screenings such as dental and eyes, clinic and medication support, support for translation in health services, providing medical devices, and cooperation with doctors. Also, the results allow interpreting the roles of the non-state actors in respect to the health issues in the local integration. Mostly, the complementary role of the non-state actors comes into prominence in accordance with the responses. For instance, MAYA association stated that: “We have been trying to help the Syrian refugees by acquiring them identity cards to get health services. It has been an important effort. Also, we tried to cooperate with the doctors in Mersin for the Syrian refugees but we could not make it sustainable.” Also, a few of them which have been working for preparing reports to be submitted to the UNHCR and other top-level institutions, have been playing the monitoring role. On the other hand, concerning the other way of the non-state actors’ roles, it could be claimed that the efforts for the refugees’ access to health services and providing sustainable support would be the outcome of the role of integration based works and long-term strategies. Also, in emergency cases, there have been several humanitarian activities that were reported during the process. Education Education as a significant parameter of the integration process that prevailed among the options of integration aspects. Numerically, thir- 4.4.2. 4.4.3. 4.4. Integration Parameters and The Role of Non-State Actors 87 teen non-state actors in field research declared that they have been engaged in the activities related to the educational needs of the Syrian refugees. In response to another question related to the accelerating factors to the integration process progressing in a proper way, the importance of the educational works was considerably highlighted by the participants. Regarding this issue, the Mersin Chamber of Medicine stated that: “One of the significant accelerating factors of integration is the educational activities for Syrian refugees. These educational activities must be organized by the institutions and in accordance with official regulations. Also, the concerns of the local community can be diminished by these official regulations in respect to the educational plans.” On the field, the educational activities of these actors contain implementing projects for vocational education, providing guidance for children to be registered in schools, supporting university students and raising awareness of their needs, supporting the students and providing information on education rights of the refugees, contacting different institutions to solve the problems of the refugee children in the schools, organizing activities for making the refugees’ educational life sustainable, and encouraging the children to have education in Mersin. As an example, the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants indicated that: “We have been calling the schools and relevant institutions in order to solve the problems of the refugee children and support them when they cannot cope with the struggles in education.” Intensive focus on the educational works can be interpreted as an important contribution by the non-state actors to the local integration in Mersin. It could be argued that these non-state actors, which mostly engaged with the educational works for the refugees, have been playing the complementary role to the state policies and the implementations. Also, by considering its possible long-term outcomes, these efforts of non-state actors in the area of refugee education should be considered as an essential contribution to the long-term integration of the refugees in Mersin. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 88 Legal Assistance One of the prominent aspects of the local integration is the legal assistance of the non-state actors. Particularly, the state and non-state actors have been assisting the refugees in the official processes in order to generate a better integration of the refugees with the local community by determining the status and operating the services properly. In the case of Syrian refugees in Mersin, eight non-state actors claimed that they have been working in the area of legal assistance for the Syrian refugees. The legal assistance given by the non-state actors vary on the field in accordance with the responses from the interviews. The actions are comprised of supporting the refugees to be registered, taking the initiative for their identity cards, informing them about legal processes, helping the refugees in judicial processes with the lawyers, communicating with the MPDMM in emergency cases, consultancy and advocacy for the refugees, supporting the refugees in bureaucratic processes, support for translation in various circumstances, and giving countenance to the business people who want to start or keep their business in Mersin concerning the registration and information. For instance, the Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated that: “We have been informing the representatives of the Syrian firms who want to continue their businesses in Mersin in respect to the legal procedures. Also, we have been providing legal assistance to the Syrians who want to set up a business in Mersin.” In addition to that, a certified translator in Mersin who can speak multiple languages and is familiar with the Syrian refugees’ problems stated that: “I have been informing the Syrian refugees regarding legal issues and helping them with the translation support in the official procedures. Also, I have been playing a complementary role by being bridge between the Syrian refugees and the civil servants.” Accordingly, the non-state actors have been mostly playing complementary roles in respect to the legal assistance which could not be fully sustained by the state due to a lack of capacity and the high number of Syrian refugees. In addition, the support and contributions in this area could be perceived as the integration based works within the local integration process of Syrian refugees in Mersin. 4.4.4. 4.4. Integration Parameters and The Role of Non-State Actors 89 Language Courses The language factor has not only been a barrier to the long term integration but also it would generate problems in the daily-life of the refugees. That’s why, non-state actors have a tendency to engage with the language problem of the Syrian refugees in Mersin. According to the research results, eight non-state actors have been involved in teaching the local language since they got active in this area. While some of them have been included in particular projects for language training through cooperation among different actors, there have been language centers founded within the organizational structure of other non-state actors in respect to the impact of the language on the local integration process. One of the Syrian CSOs stated that: “We have a language center operating under our organizational structure which admits anyone who wants to learn the Turkish language and keep studying their mother languages. This language center is also a part of our education center within the organization. We are cooperating with the public education center in order to be able to deliver official language certificates.” By providing language training and encouraging people to learn the local language, the non-state actors have been playing the roles of integration-based works and having the long term strategies. Also, their actions in this field are an example of complementing the state policies and implementations regarding accelerating the process. Employment Employment is a crucial dynamic for the long-term strategies and implementations of the refugee integration process. It has also been one of the fields in which non-state actors are involved in contributing to the long-term integration. According to the results, six non-state actors joined in the efforts of the refugee employment within the local market. In the case of Syrian refugees in Mersin, non-state actors’ involvement for the employment of the refugees remained less than the ones for the education, health, legal assistance, and support for the language. Regarding the content of their involvement, several non-state 4.4.5. 4.4.6. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 90 actors have been giving promises of helping the refugees to find a job after their participation in vocational training. For instance, MOR- SKUD stated that: “We will be making an effort for the refugees who take vocational training to be employed in the local market. For this purpose, we will be in touch with several actors such as İŞKUR, civil society organizations, and the municipalities.” Also, regardless of the vocational training, one of them directly uses their own network to employ vulnerable refugees in the labor market. As an example of this situation, the representative of the Mersin 7Renk LGBTI Association indicated that: “I have been leading LGBTI people to various workplaces where they would not face discrimination. For example, I have already led a LGBTI person to the workplace of my father and the job was given to this person. Likewise, several of our other friends employed some other LGBTI refugees.” In addition to that, a couple of Syrian civil society organizations indicated that they are trying to give the refugees jobs in their own place when the Syrian refugees are in need of it. Concerning the employment issue in the local integration, the non-state actors could claim that they have been playing the role of complementing the state policies and actions. At the same time, they seemed to be taking the responsibility for playing a role in the long-term integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. Skills development Skills development is an important step for the refugees to be able to find a job in the market of the host community. More or less the same non-state actors which are involved in the employment issue, joined in the attempts for developing the skills of the Syrian refugees in Mersin. Accordingly, most of them contributed to the process by implementing or becoming a part of particular projects which mostly focused on vocational training. Regarding a specific project in Mersin, YUVA Association indicated that: 4.4.7. 4.4. Integration Parameters and The Role of Non-State Actors 91 “We have been implementing a project of vocational training for the refugees which is comprised of agriculture, sanitary system works (construction, painting, plumbing, etc.), cooking, and textile manufacturing. After the refugees get vocational education for three months, the public education center certifies the refugees. In addition to that, classes in entrepreneurship, effective communication techniques, and anger management are given to the refugees.” At the end of the vocational training, the refugees will be able to be employed by the firms and factories. One of these non-state actors differently stated that they only support the refugees who want to develop their skills. Considering the responses of the non-state actors, skills development projects seemed to be one of the most interesting areas for the non-state actors which would play the role of complementing the state policies and the actions, and the efforts for long-term integration due to the ultimate goal of employment. Social and Cultural Aspect Social and cultural factors are important matters for the refugee’s social integration into the host society. According to the results, various actors on the field contributed to the process of social integration of Syrians refugees in Mersin. One of the professional chambers in Mersin distinctively indicated that they would establish a social innovation center which is thought to activate social entrepreneurship and offer innovative approaches to social problems. By this way, they believe that they will contribute to the social cohesion. Moreover, the Catholic Church in Mersin has been organizing camps and picnics for the young people including refugees in order to teach them ethical values and support them to create networks. Also, another religious community, Djemevi brought the refugee and local children together in their activities in order to make the refugee children feel that they are not alone in Mersin. A civil society organization holds the activities of chess, sport, dance and drama in order to make the refugee children socialized. On the other hand, a research center in Mersin University, BIAMER organized a workshop to understand the problems of the Syrian refugees and generated an atmosphere for networking in the workshop. Another organization, Mersin 7Renk LGBTI Association 4.4.8. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 92 indicated their mission of social consultancy to the refugees. Importantly, a Syrian civil society organization in Mersin stated that they already held an intercultural day in Mersin. Also, they organized football games for the young refugees and local people. In addition, they gather Turkish and Syrian musicians in their own schools and the teachers were teaching instruments to each other in their free time. Thereby, we could readily argue that these non-state actors have been playing the complementary role in the long-term oriented integration works. Participation Participation aspect of the integration process is less likely to be focused on rather than previous elements in Mersin. Nevertheless, several non-state actors contributed to the participation of Syrian refugees in civic life through civil society organizations and workshops held by different actors. Significantly, a representative of the Mezitli City Council stated that: “We introduced the Mezitli City Council to the Syrians in Mezitli and we got in touch with them. The mayor of Mezitli developed his relations with the Syrians through our intermediation… We included a Syrian young person in the council activities in order to raise the voices of Syrian young people in the decision making process.” Also, a research center in Mersin University organized a large-scale workshop in Mersin which was comprised of a number of state and non-state actors in order to discuss the problems of the city with the Syrian representatives and individuals. In addition, Syrians have the possibility to join in civil life in Mersin through several Syrian civil society organizations such as the Sandal of Liberty Association and Syrian Social Gathering which were also the respondents of the interview in this research. Apart from these respondent CSOs, there have been other Syrian CSOs in Mersin, too. Concerning the participation of Syrian refugees, non-state actors in Mersin seem to be playing a role of having strategies and implementations towards medium and long term integration. Their complementary feature can be stressed by indicating the supplementary meetings to the states’ meetings with NGOs in Mersin. 4.4.9. 4.4. Integration Parameters and The Role of Non-State Actors 93 Lastly, although the results emerged with the responses to different questions, a specific question which was aimed to reveal the non-state actors’ activities mostly contributed to the analyses. That’s why, it would be beneficial to present its chart here: Involved Areas According to this graph, the strategies and activities for the education of Syrian refugees have taken the lead. Interestingly, the option of other follows education in accordance with the responses of selected nonstate actors. This option is mostly comprised of social and cultural activities which were generally designed to bring the local people and Syrian refugees together. In this way, non-state actors believed that they would contribute to the cultural recognition and social integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin. The next sections will be focusing on the non-state actors’ perception of the state policies and actions, and the Syrian refugees in Mersin, which is also one of the essential aspects of this research. Figure 19. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 94 Non-State Actors’ Perception on State Policies and Actions One of the significant outcomes of this research was to reveal the nonstate actors’ perception on the state policies actions in respect to the refugees’ integration in Mersin. For this reason, several questions were asked during the interviews. First of all, a question was directed in order to learn of non-states actors’ knowledge about the presence of state and local governments’ integration policies. According to the results, while thirteen actors were relatively being aware of the presence of integration policies designed by the state and local governments, five other non-state actors did not confirm any information about them. Also, two actors did not give any response to this question at all. The relevant rates can be seen below: Knowledge about State and Local Governments’ Integration Policies and Actions In addition to that, when the opinion on the state and local governments’ integration policies was examined, one of the outcomes dominated the other responses. Nine of fifteen non-state actors stated that there have been some efforts by the state and local government but they are not sufficient. Also, while four non-state actors did not respond to this question, two actors indicated that the current works are totally insufficient. As a response, no one said that the current works are totally adequate. As a general outcome, non-state actors would pre- 4.5. Figure 20. 4.5. Non-State Actors’ Perception on State Policies and Actions 95 fer to see developed integration policies and activities in the field. Figure 21 shows the relevant percentages below: Opinion on State and Local Governments’ Integration Policies In another question, the non-state actors were questioned in order to reveal whether they are complementing the state actions in the field in accordance with the complementary role of non-state actors in the local integration. In the research, complementing the state actions in the field means that non-state actors would contribute to the local integration of Syrian refugees by covering shortcomings in the field or cooperating with the state. As a result, even though a particular part of selected non-state actors indicated that there has not been a well-oriented integration policy and action, ten non-state actors as being half of the sample stated that they have been achieving to complement the implementation of the authorities in the field. According to the responses, the complementary works of these non-state actors mostly included refugee workshops, sharing information with relevant actors, implementing projects in the field, and providing humanitarian assistance. Due to large necessities on the ground, four non-state actors do not believe that they can fully play a complementary role in the process of local integration in spite of their complementary work. These large necessities were indicated as being the lack of state policies and actions, and the high number of Syrian refugees. On the other hand, an organization indicated that the actions of the non-state actors and Figure 21. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 96 authorities have been demonstrating distorted roles. Also, a professional chamber differently emphasized that their works could not be complementary due to insufficient capacity of the chamber. By and large, whether the non-state actors play a complementary role, a considerable part of these non-state actors pointed out the necessity for developed policies by the state and the difficulty in the field due to the high number of Syrian refugees and insufficient organizational capacities. Figure 22 will demonstrate the rates below: Complementary or not? Non-State Actors’ Perception on the Syrian Refugees In previous parts, the results and particular analyses concerning the role of non-state actors and their perception on the state policies and implementation in the local integration process were exhibited with the inclusion of the relevant graphs. Last but not least, the non-state actors’ perception on the Syrian refugees was also questioned during the interviews. A question was to reveal the thoughts of non-state actors on the refugees’ future in respect to legal and migratory dynamics. Two options Figure 22. 4.6. 4.6. Non-State Actors’ Perception on the Syrian Refugees 97 such as “maintaining the current status” and “migration to Europe or other countries” were least likely to be expected by the non-state actors. On the one hand, the gradual integration policy option for the refugees was most likely to be preferred by the non-state actors. Following this option, the citizenship right is believed to be given to the Syrian refugees during or at the end of the integration process. On the other hand, considerable number of non-state actors less than previous ones believes that the best option for the refugees is returning back to home after the possible ending of the war in Syria. Importantly, a group of non-state actors stated in their own words instead of choosing an option among the alternatives. Several of these non-state actors indicated that an option cannot explain the future of the Syrian refugees. They emphasized the multiple choices of the diversified Syrian population in Mersin without mentioning the states’ decisions. In addition to that, other two nonactors who put forward a particular perspective to this matter, focused on the long period of refugees’ stay in Mersin in order to indicate that some of them would stay in Mersin and some of them would go back to Syria, without talking about any policy option. Lastly, an organization pointed out a possible safe-zone in Syria that would allow the refugees to move there. The relevant table could be seen below: Opinion on the Refugees’ FutureFigure 23. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 98 Furthermore, another issue related to non-state actors’ perception on the Syrian refugees is the capability of the refugees to be integrated into the community in Mersin. In addition to that, possible factors for accelerating the integration process were asked to the non-state actors. Regarding the capability of the refugees in the local integration process, the results seemed positive rather than negative. Nine of all the respondents indicated that the refugees could comply with the society and be integrated under certain circumstances. Closely, eight non-state actors argued that they could join the society and be integrated without any specific circumstances. Only two non-state actors did not approve of the capability of the refugees for their integration in Mersin. Accordingly, the percentages will be shown below: Possible to be integrated? Moreover, there were some ideas that occurred after the interviews concerning the accelerating factors in a healthy way for the refugees’ local integration. According to the results, rational and legal regulations became the most prominent response among others. Following that, education and language factor was thought to be another important element in the list. While there have been few other alternatives to the classical options in the list, three main options such as cultural and religious commonalities, more inclusion of non-state actors into the process, and positive attitudes of the local community to the process Figure 24. 4.6. Non-State Actors’ Perception on the Syrian Refugees 99 remained weak as none of them could exceed ten percent. Regarding the other alternatives to the classical options in the list, an actor emphasized the prevention of the racist and discriminative policies in accordance with the healthy and sustainable process. Also, another actor pointed out the two-way feature of the integration process as saying that “Turkish culture and lifestyle must be narrated to the refugees. The efforts must be mutual in this process”. By and large, non-state actors intend to urge the authorities to take action more actively by formulating rational and legal regulations, which also include better opportunities for education and language factor, in order to eliminate the obstacles in the integration process. Concerning this dimension, Figure 25 will be demonstrated below: Factors to accelerate the integration process In order to comprehend the circumstances of Syrian refugees in the broad picture and understand the role of the MPDMM, the interview with MPDMM will be revealed in the next part. Figure 25. Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 100 Interview with the Mersin Provincial Directorate of Migration Management (MPDMM) After analyzing the results from the fieldwork concerning the role of non-state actors, the important notes from the interview with the MPDMM will be presented in this part. Apart from the non-state actors and local governments, the Directorate in Mersin represents the central authority in Ankara regarding the decisions and the implementations in respect to the Syrian refugees who live in Mersin. The interview with the representative of the central authority in the local area is considered to include the state perspective in order to put forth an analytical research. Changes in Turkish law and the establishment of the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) allowed delegating the responsibility of the Turkish Police Headquarters of the Foreigners’ Department (TPHFD) to the DGMM concerning the refugees. According to the interviewer in the office of the MPDMM, they took the responsibility from the TPHFD concerning the refugees and started to work in Mersin on May 18, 2015. The officer provided information about the communication with the Syrians in Mersin who individually found the Directorate or got in touch with the Directorate in another place during their registration. In addition to that, the Directorate contacted the representatives of the civil society organizations in their meetings in order to reach and inform the refugees. When the question about the integration practices of the MPDMM appeared, an official representative firstly indicated that the main role of the institution is to coordinate the fieldwork and relevant actors. Moreover, it was stated that the management pyramid begins in Ankara in order for the projects to be implemented by various actors. On the other hand, there have been other activities in which the MPDMM was directly involved. These practices can be outlined as: involvement in the projects and regular meetings with various actors, consultation and guidance, informing public institutions and non-state actors, delivering the briefing leaflets, contribution to the reports and submitting them to the office of the governor. Nevertheless, the representative indicated that the reasons such as the registration of the high number of refugees, their frequent change of location, and the lack of 4.7. 4.7. Interview with the Mersin Provincial Directorate of Migration Management (MPDMM) 101 personnel have not allowed the office to fully work on the integration. It was stated that the office has particular ideas regarding the integration but there is no time to implement these ideas due to the above mentioned factors. In respect to the question about the cooperation among the state and non-state actors for the integration of the refugees in Mersin, the respondent said that there has not been considerable work towards the integration but they cooperated with some civil society organizations and opinion leaders regarding the support for celebrations, briefings, delivering the leaflets, guidance and meetings. In addition to that, concerning the question related to the fieldwork of the MPDMM in Mersin, the officer pointed out their role of coordination to provide security when there is tension between the refugees and the local people. After this kind of tension and the interference by various actors, the MPDMM keeps registering the ones who were not registered before or decide to evacuate the refugee population due to the tensions. Answering the same question, the respondent presented another fieldwork of the MPDMM that they conducted a project called “huzurlu sokaklar” (peaceful streets) which aimed to settle unaccompanied beggar refugee children into children’s homes. When it comes to the query of the shortcomings in and suggestions for the integration matters, the MPDMM puts forward that the amount of cooperation and coordination among the MPDMM, national, and international organizations must be increased, the capacity of the Directorate General must be expanded, and there must be at least biweekly regular meetings with the national civil society organizations. Importantly, when the accelerating factors for the integration of refugees was asked, the officer outlined the accelerating elements as improving the national and local harmonization policies which could be regarded as pathfinder, organizing expedited Turkish language courses under the coordination of the DGMM, providing a process of teaching the Turkish Constitution, and holding contact meetings. Lastly, concerning the citizenship rights to the Syrian refugees in the near future, the respondent stated that it is likely to ease the process of acquiring citizenship rights for the ones who bring the capital and provide employment. In the following chapters, the results from Chapter 4 The Case of Mersin and Findings 102 the fieldwork concerning the role of non-state actors within the local integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin will be presented. As a very brief discussion for previous sections, the results and the analyses mainly demonstrate that the involvement of the non-state actors in the refugee integration process varies by different methods and contents. Also, it would be one of the outcomes that due to the high number of refugees and lack of capacities of state and non-state actors, the cooperation among authorities and non-state actors would be beneficial for themselves, 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. Also, many have been expecting to see the formulation of rational and legal regulations concerning the refugees in order to make things certain and the integration process sustainable. More specifically, there has been a symptom of cooperation between the state and non-state actors. However, according to many respondents, the cooperation in the field must be expanded in order to strengthen the integration process of Syrian refugees. One of the important reasons of having a willingness to expand the cooperation is that most of the non-state actors admitted transformation of the Syrians’ situation which was shifted to “permanent stay of Syrian refugees” rather than “temporary stay of the Syrian ‘guests’”. Also, after 2013, the increasing numbers of Syrian refugees brought about the mobilization of most of the non-state actors in Mersin. Finally, although the non-state actors have been mainly working for the integration of Syrian refugees in Mersin, several actors have kept working in the area of humanitarian assistance. Concerning the efforts for the Syrians’ integration, most of the non-state actors were distinguished as playing the role of being complementary to the state policies and implementations. However, due to several reasons such as the lack of funding, inadequate staff and capacity in the organizations, some of the non-state actors have been limited in the fieldwork. Lastly, the conflict is not likely to prevail among the state and non-actors but the communication between these actors needs to be developed in order to respond to the refugees’ needs and carry out their integration process in favorable ways. 4.7. Interview with the Mersin Provincial Directorate of Migration Management (MPDMM) 103

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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.