Refugee Routes to Istanbul and the Dynamics of Labor Market Participation: The Case of Syrians in Comparison to Non-Syrians

Author/s: Ulaş Sunata, Esra Yıldız, Ezgi Araç

DOI: 10.12738/mejrs.2018.3.2.0007

Year: 2018 Vol: 3 Number: 2

Abstract

Turkey as a country has been hosting the most refugees in the world since 2015. Although it has experienced distinctive immigration in past years, the Syrian refugee flow has increased in significance in terms of quantity and quality, with the number now expressed in millions. Thus the aim of this study is to display the similarities and differences of Syrians’ migration and integration processes in comparison to other forced migrants. To reach this aim, 32 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted in Istanbul, the city that has received the most migrants. We have studied refugees’ routes and their social networks using content analysis. Kunz’s models are confirmed with our sample by analyzing arrival paths to Istanbul and a typology for Syrians in this context is developed. Then, the study reveals no family network among non-Syrians migrants’ settlements, even though migration is a family decision for Syrians. Moreover, having relatives is seen as an opportunity to build networks and to get a job in order to become involved in their new environment, with Istanbul set as the destination. In addition, labor market participation has been identified as the primary subject for evaluating the integration process. Relations with employer and work-related problems are significant parts of the integration phase and challenging for both groups. Furthermore, informal work conditions have resulted in not only discrimination but also problems such as wage payment issues, skill mismatching, child labor, and more importantly work accidents.

Keywords
Syrians, Turkey, Refugees, Integration, Employment, Labor market participation

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