14 January 2016

Visa restrictions for Syrians entering Turkish territory have been introduced for those who enter via air or by sea. These restrictions will not apply to Syrian refugees who cross the border by land. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that these new restrictions were to reduce the numbers of Syrians arriving indirectly from third countries such as Libya and Egypt.

This has led to reports of Syrians being stranded at Beirut airport, with 400 people denied access to their flights on January 8, with Amnesty International branding the new visa regulations as “yet another hurdle for Syrians desperate to seek sanctuary from the conflict”.

In a meeting with EU Commission Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, on 11 January, the Turkish government announced proposals to increase access to Turkish work permits for Syrian refugees. Since the start of the Syria conflict, over two million Syrians have fled to Turkey, but only 7,300 work permits have been issued so far. The Turkish minister for European Affairs Volkan Bozkır said that these plans are hoped to discourage Syrian refugees from crossing into the European Union.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 15 January 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.