Number of Turks granted protection status in Europe up by 300 percent

The number of Turkish nationals granted protection status by European Union countries increased by 300 percent between 2016 and 2017, proving that European asylum services recognise that Turkish people are being persecuted in their homeland, political scientist Nikolaos Lampas said on Thursday in a paper he wrote for the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies. 

According to data from the Migration Policy Institute, the number of Turkish nationals granted protection status increased from 900 in 2016 to 5,555 in 2017.

In 2017, the average rate of recognition of asylum applications from Turkish nationals in Europe was 36 percent, meaning that in one out of three cases, Turkish asylum seekers were granted refugee status.

Refugee flows from Turkey to Europe have increased, mostly due to a combination of the 2016 failed coup attempt and an ongoing economic crisis, Lampas said.

Approximately 150,000 civil servants have lost their jobs and the Turkish police have made more than 50,000 arrests in a massive crackdown against the opposition in the aftermath of the coup.

Turkey is also facing its most severe economic downturn since 2001, with the lira sliding by almost 40 percent against the dollar since the beginning of the year. The approaching recession in Turkey and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s reluctance to implement sound economic policies also push Turkish people to migrate European countries, Lampas said.

The substantial increase in the number of protection status granted to Turkish national is striking for two reasons, said Lampas. “First, it reflects the speed at which the total number of asylum applications from Turkish citizens has risen. Second, it shows that European asylum services recognise that Turkish citizens are being persecuted.”

According to a 2016 refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece, for every Syrian who legally enters Turkey and continues on to the EU, another refugee who has illegally entered the EU will be sent back to Turkey.

Lampas said that under that agreement Turkey had been considered as a safe third country. “But this no longer makes sense. European countries now grant refugee protection status to Turkish citizens, meaning they acknowledge that they are suffering persecution in their home country,” he said.