Although Palestinian refugees from Syria are, like Syrian citizens, under temporary protection, the visa-free entry clauses Turkey applies to Syrian citizens are not valid for Palestinian refugees.
Although Turkey has an ‘open door policy’ for refugees from Syria, problems do emerge at the border. The problem Palestinians living in Syria have suffered since 2011 has still not been solved. Although Palestinian refugees from Syria are, like Syrian citizens, under temporary protection, the visa-free entry clauses Turkey applies to Syrian citizens are not valid for Palestinian refugees. Therefore, even if they carry refugee passports issued by the Syrian government, Turkey asks for a visa from Palestinian refugees. However, that is not an easy task at all.
The interruption of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Syria with the outbreak of war has made the task of Palestinians even more difficult. Palestinian refugees who escape the war in Syria and come to Turkey have to go to a third country that has an embassy of Turkey to get a visa. The closest options are Iraq, Lebanon, or Jordan.
Helsinki Citizens Assembly Refugee Support Projects Coordinator Hakan Ataman explains that another factor that makes the circumstances of the Palestinian refugees difficult is the arbitrary attitude of officials in Turkey. Many Palestinian refugees who have found a way to make a visa application are rejected with no grounds, while some others manage to secure a visa through acquaintances in Turkey, or civilian society institutions who are aware of the situation. According to Ataman, leaving Turkey is an equally difficult issue for Palestinians who seek to obtain visas through the mediation of political figures to enter Turkey. It is also known that Palestinian refugees that carry visas obtained from other countries and have clear transit visas are frequently stopped by police at airports and prevented from exiting Turkey. Ataman states that refugees who purchase flight tickets with their restricted budgets after fleeing the war to come to Turkey face very difficult circumstances when they are prevented from travelling abroad. According to Ataman, the official authority, the Ministry of Interior Migration Administration General Directorate, displays a highly indifferent and negative attitude regarding the problem, and refuses to cooperate with civilian society organisations.
Forced out of their homes in 1948, Palestinians began to migrate to Syria the same year. In later years, the political circumstances in the region accelerated migration. Before the war, there were around 580 thousand Palestinians in Syria. Although they had freedom of travel and the right to education, Palestinians were not given Syrian citizenship. When civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, only one of the 9 camps in the country remained habitable, as 3 were demolished, 2 were seized, and 3 were evacuated under siege. According to data provided by the Palestine Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, 450 thousand Palestinians left Syria during the war, while 2,667 Palestinians have been killed, and 712 Palestinians have been arrested.