Improving the Immigration and Asylum Statistics in Turkey
Every government needs to know the size and composition of the population within its territory. Thereby, along with births and deaths, immigration is a key component of population change and must be known for policy and planning purposes. It means the data is used and useful for the allocation of resources and provision of public services which affect the burden and budget in government departments and administrative bodies.
Information on immigration flow and stocks are not systematically and regu-larly reported in Turkey. Statistics on international migration are not readily available as they are reported in a rather scattered fashion; in fact, a variety of government departments including Turk-Stat, General Directorate of Citizenship and Population, State Planning Organisation, General Directorate of Security and their respective websites must be accessed to obtain basic summaries.
General Directorate of Security records (i.e. residence permits, asylum and refugee registers, border registers) are maintained for administrative purposes and constitute the basis for most statis¬tics on international migration.
These registers describe the number of legal permanent and temporary residents, refugees and asylum seekers, and naturalized citizens. However, these registers are limited by conceptual problems and confused reporting, undercounts, and information gaps. A key problem is the absence of systematic follow ups. Once the immigrants are in country, there are very few tools to update their records. Thus, there is also a known large difference between the residence permit holders register and Address Based Population Registration System records.
The definition of migration used in data collection and statistics needs to be adjusted according to UN and EU recommendations to distinguish short term and long term immigrants. The resident status questions in censuses and surveys are likely to be perceived sensitive and should not be used to avoid inaccurate and misleading responses.
There are also information gaps for in-ternational migration flows. More and detailed information needs to be reported for new residents with temporary (students, trainees, researchers, etc.) long term or permanent resident statuses. The border statistics, and to an extent re-sidence registers are difficult to tally accurately because the record-keeping systems are not designed to identify re-entries as well as exits.
It is important to use different and comp-limentary data to ensure reliability of immigration data. Such triangulation was al-so recommended in THESIM project.
Thus this report recommends:

  • a) creation of a single ministry or department to deal with all citizenship, residency, immigration issues in a more coherent fashion which will also require a revision of immigration and citizenship laws into a single code or act;
  • b) in the short and medium term, better coordination of immigration data flows from all relevant departments to TurkStat who is responsible to analysis, reporting and dissemination;
  • c) a content and method harmonisation of data collection forms to ensure all government departments collecting the basic residency and demographic infor-mation to identify mobility;
  • d) re-introduction of landing and departure cards with intended duration of stay, citizenship and purpose of stay questions added along with basic demographic information;
  • e) systematic evaluation and development of follow up procedures and in-country checks to update data on immigrants in Turkey;
  • f) carrying out systematic and periodic passenger surveys to analyze migration patterns and make policy re-commendations to the related public authorities and planners;
  • g) encouraging universities and research institutes to use the data produced by TurkStat and col-laborate with them to enhance and im-prove systems in place.
  • This country study builds on the work carried out in the TurkStat and presents conclusions following a review of:

  • – publicly available material on improv-ing migration statistics in other countries;
  • – discussions with practitioners who are involved in collection and dis-semination of migration data and producers of the data from a range of government organisations;
  • – examination of data and statistics from TurkStat and other institutions;
  • – examination of unpublished reports and papers from TurkStat;
  • – discussions with the experts in Turk-Stat;
  • – a review of migration statistics literature.
  • By Ibrahim Sirkeci

    Ibrahim Sirkeci is Professor at Regent's University London and writes a weekly column for BirGun daily newspaper.

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