With a presence since 1991, IOM has been actively working in Türkiye for over three decades. In 2004, Türkiye became a full-fledged member state of IOM, formalizing the partnership between the organization and the Republic of Türkiye.
With its strategic location bridging Europe and Asia, Türkiye has historically been a significant country of origin, transit and destination for migrants. Currently, Türkiye hosts one of the largest migrant populations globally. According to the latest available figures from the Turkish Presidency of Migration Management (PMM), there are more than 4.9 million foreign nationals present in Turkish territory, 3.7 million of whom are seeking international protection.
As the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration, IOM is committed to supporting the Turkish Government to promote safe, orderly and regular migration. IOM has supported the Turkish Government to develop policies aimed at ensuring effective, human rights-based migration governance.
Initially focusing on resettlement for Iraqi refugees in the 1990s, IOM's scope of work expanded over time – working closely with the Turkish Government to manage the long-term impacts of migration and leverage the opportunities it brings for sustainable development. IOM’s programmes focus on protecting migrants and promoting resilience, improving their health and wellbeing, advancing sustainable livelihoods and labour mobility, fostering integration and social inclusion of migrants, strengthening effective management of borders, and conducting research and data collection to inform policymaking. IOM has continued to support the resettlement of refugees to third countries through movement operations, health assessment and cultural orientation.
Moreover, IOM plays a leading role in emergency response, particularly after the 2011 earthquake in Van and the start of the Syrian crisis in 2012. IOM began delivering life-saving cross-border humanitarian assistance to Northwest Syria in 2014. Most recently, IOM has mobilized its resources to support response and recovery efforts following the February 2023 earthquakes.
Today, IOM Türkiye is one of IOM’s largest missions worldwide, with over 800 staff and 400 non-staff contract holders across the country as of August 2023. The organization operates in various locations nationwide, with its main office in Ankara and sub/field offices in Adana, Adiyaman, Edirne, Gaziantep, Hatay, İstanbul, Izmir, Kahramanmaraş, Malatya, Mersin and Şanlıurfa.
- Chief of Mission
Mr. Gerard Karl Waite assumed the position of Chief of Mission, IOM Turkey, in September 2021. Mr. Waite has 24 years of experience in migration management. His prior experience with IOM includes serving as Chief of Mission in Iraq, Somalia, Uganda, and South Sudan. In addition, he held various positions at IOM Sudan, including Darfur Regional Coordinator in Khartoum, Head of Sub-Office in El-Fashir, and Protection Officer in Nyala. Prior to joining IOM, Mr. Waite served as Program Officer at Transparency International in Germany, Program Coordinator at the Alternative Information Center (AIC) in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Refugee Support Officer at the Scottish Refugee Council in Scotland.
Mr. Waite holds a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Anthropology and master’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh, and a master’s degree in Human Rights from the University of London.
- Deputy Chief of Mission
Ms. Claudia Natali assumed the position of Deputy Chief of Mission, IOM Türkiye, in April 2023. Ms. Natali has 17 years of experience in migration management and donor relations and coordination. Her prior experience before Türkiye includes serving as Deputy Chief of Mission/Head of Programme Development Support Unit in Libya, Senior Labour Mobility and Human Development Specialist at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Dakar, Labour Migration Programme Coordinator at IOM Thailand, and previously as Policy Officer (JPO) at IOM HQ in Geneva.
Ms. Natali holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Turin, Italy, and a master's degree in Development Economics from the University of East Anglia, UK.