626.1 Fumbling in the dark: A study on the participation of Iranian refugees in Ankara (Turkey)

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 9:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Yasemin AKIS KALAYLIOGLU , Department of Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
Turkey is one of the most important countries for transit migration as it’s on the route from Middle East to Europe. To compete with the pressure brought by the huge numbers of asylum seekers who are willing to reach Europe, Turkey put “geographical limitation” to 1951 Convention in Geneva, so as not to give any rights to Non-European asylum seekers (NEAS) to stay in the country permanently. Hence, all the NEAS are resettled to a third country (USA, Canada or Europe) after they are recognized as refugees by UNHCR office in Turkey. Nevertheless, the difficulties in obtaining refugee status combined with the hard living circumstances (e.g. there is no integration programme for refugees in Turkey) limit their participation in society. In order to comprehend their participation strategies, this research focuses on the Iranian asylum seekers and refugees, who are one of the most populous refugee groups in Turkey, in the capital city of Ankara. By using snowball method, 15 in-depth interviews are conducted with political, religious and Lgbt refugees from Iran. According to the results, although interviewees officially have rights to work and benefit from the health services and education (main articles of 1951 Convention), they are not able to practice them due to government’s incomplete legislation. In this respect, the role of cultural and social capital of Iranian refugees emerges as a very significant instrument to overcome livelihood problems and enable them to participate in the society socially and politically. Last but not least, while social networks are considered to have positive results on migrant’s social capital, it seems not to be congruent with the case of Iranian Refugees’ due to the lack of trust towards each other within Iranian community.