Immigration Policy and Immigrant Health Practices in Turkey

Immigration policies practiced against migrants and legal status of refugees in Turkey is regulated on the basis of the Geneva Convention on the Legal Status of Refugees (1951) which was signed by the United Nations. According to the Geneva Convention, “refugee” status is given by Turkey for migrants only from European countries. There are different concepts about immigrants such as; Foreigners, Stateless, Nomads, Internally Displaced Persons etc.


Syrians coming to our country as a result of the Syrian civil war, starting from 2007, are taken under temporary protection, under the Law on Foreigners and International Protection. According to this regulation services that is provided to “Temporarily Protected” are carried out under the coordination of the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD). Governors are primarily responsible for the provision of services in the provinces. The health services that are provided for Syrians who are under Temporary Protection are based on the principles specified in the Temporary Protection Regulation; it is regulated by the instructions issued by AFAD and the Ministry of Health. The established health centers are now serving especially to Syrians but not only them, also to all of the stateless and foreigners in our country.


Photo 1. & Photo 2. Temporary Protected Migrants Camps in Turkey


Emergency response teams, community health staffs and temporary hospital staffs provide health care in temporary accommodation centers. In residential areas, it provides family health center personnel, hospital staff including public-private university hospitals and voluntary health facilities that charge with governance.

Procedures and general issues for the provision of health services are as follows:

  • There are different types of health services to immigrants under temporary protection, have ID cards, have not yet been registered and injured. Those who are injured at the border are registered after treatment.
  • There is no extra health service that is not already covered by the general health insurance. They can only receive health services from the province where they are registered, and they cannot apply to other provinces without dispatch.
  • Except for the temporary protected persons who have the identity card and SSI provision, they can only benefit from emergency health services and primary health care services in cases of epidemics and infectious diseases that may endanger public health.
  • Family health physicians are obliged to examine the temporary guardians registered to them and may prescribe medication.
  • The cost of health care provided shall be paid by AFAD under the control of the Ministry of Health, by the Social Security Institution, in a manner not to exceed the value in the health application notification adjust for Turkish people.
  • Drug expenses are covered by 80% AFAD and 20% by the patients in the contracted pharmacies. In case of inpatient treatment, all expenses such as diagnosis, medicine and surgery are covered by the state. In case of benefiting from university and private hospitals without referral, expenditures are out of pocket.
  • Unemployed, disabled and children should be given priority when placing the registered foreigners in temporary accommodation centers. The location of temporary accommodation centers is determined by AFAD. However, temporary health centers established in temporary accommodation centers shall be operated in accordance with the procedures and principles determined by the Ministry of Health.
  • Interpreting services should be provided free of charge if the required level of communication cannot be established with a foreigner without an interpreter.
  • Preventive health services are provided by the Public Health Directorate affiliated organizations (Community Health Centers and Family Health Centers). In addition, primary health care services may be provided by Voluntary Health Institutions in accordance with the permits granted temporarily.


Photo 3. Migrant Health Center Provided by Antakya Community Health Center


Photo 4. AFAD Nutrition Support to In Residential Areas


Some of the services provided by the Provincial Directorates of Family and Social Policies are closely related to health. According to the legislation, preventive health services are provided within the scope of :

  • All services (immunization, screening and monitoring services) for babies, children and adolescents in our country should be provided for those under temporary protection in accordance with the legislation.
  • All women’s follow-up, pregnancy monitoring and family planning services for women in the reproductive age in our country should be provided to women under temporary protection in the same way. Necessary measures should be taken within the framework of the relevant legislation on women victims of violence and victims of human trafficking.
  • Foreigners who come to the referral center by entering the country should be subjected to a health check and necessary measures should be taken against the risk of infectious diseases.
  • Necessary measures should be taken for those who are found to have substance abuse or psychological problems among those who are temporarily protected. Treatments and follow-up should be performed in accordance with the rules set by the General Directorate of Public Health.
  • The Ministry of Family and Social Policies is responsible for the identification and distribution of social assistance to be provided for the shelter, care and supervision of unaccompanied children and persons with disabilities in psychosocial support services to be provided to persons under temporary protection. Vulnerable groups can benefit from the services of institutions such as kindergartens, women’s shelters within the scope of the laws in our country.


Photo 5. Coffee shop run by Syrian immigrant


In our other article, we will discuss immunization services for immigrants in Turkey. Please feel free to ask anything about migrants’ health. Also you can comment, what is your opinion? Do you see any migrants who are in need of health care? What do you think about your country’s migrant health policies? Your comments will guide us to write new posts. Thanks for reading.




Simsek, D., & Koser Akcapar, S. (2018). The Politics of Syrian Refugees in Turkey: A Question of Inclusion and Exclusion through Citizenship. Social Inclusion, 6(1), 176-187.



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