IOM, Turkish Authorities, and EU conclude “Improvement of Customs Enforcement Capacity” Project

Ankara, 22 November 2023 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the European Union and the Ministry of Trade’s Directorate General of Customs Enforcement jointly marked the successful completion of the European Union-funded “Improvement of Customs Enforcement Capacity” Project.

Aimed at responding to the growing need for improved border security and surveillance in Türkiye, the five-year project enhanced passenger and cargo controls at selected pilot airports, reduced airport crime, strengthened aircraft search capabilities and enhanced the capacity of the Dog Training Center.

2,166 representatives participated in 88 project activities, including training and workshops on risk analysis, behavioural analysis, and various technical aspects of passenger and cargo controls.  Notably, 117 Customs staff were trained as trainers and delivered stepdown trainings to 436 Customs colleagues, ensuring the sustainability of the project's impact.

Dog handlers from the Dog Training Center received trainings on detector dog handling and detection of illicit goods. The trainings efficiency succeeded with the triumph of the trained dog winning an international competition on drugs.

In 2022, the project contributed to a 15 per cent annual increase in contraband cases detected, demonstrating the improved quality of customs controls and the project's positive impact on combating smuggling. Such improvements are critical to Türkiye’s role as a vital border management partner for the EU.

Aside from Customs Enforcement personnel, staff from the Turkish National Police, Presidency for Migration Management, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of State Airports Authority, and the private sector – including airline employees, operators, security and ground services at pilot airports – benefitted from capacity building events.

At the closing event in Ankara to mark the project's completion, Director General of Customs Enforcement Recep Kosal remarked: “The efforts we are undertaking to increase the effectiveness of our General Directorate in combating smuggling will continue with the same determination in the upcoming period. We will continue to support our country's international trade strength, and we will strive to increase efficiency and effectiveness in customs controls."

The Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Türkiye, Odoardo Como, stressed that “The project has laid an important foundation for a new EU-IOM project – “Supporting Border and Migration Management at Airports” – that has commenced recently and which will build on and complement the achievements of this as well as other previous EU projects. This and other ongoing and new projects fill with life the EU’s Integrated Border Management (IBM) concept,” he added, “a concept for which national coordination and international cooperation are key and that stands for a modernised, cost-efficient and humane way of managing the intense flow of people and goods, while adequately protecting borders.”

IOM remains committed to being a trusted partner in supporting Türkiye’s border management efforts, with a view to reducing irregular migration while facilitating well-managed, regular migration that benefits all,” added IOM Türkiye Deputy Chief of Mission Claudia Natali. “We are ready to continue leveraging our global expertise in order to assist the government in effectively responding to diverse migration-related challenges.”

Beyond the project closure, IOM and the EU continue their collaboration with authorities on human rights-based border and migration management. Current programmes focus, among others, on combatting irregular migration, facilitating regular migration pathways, promoting alternatives to detention and building capacities of removal centre staff.

For media inquiries, please contact Miko Alazas ( +90 534 697 35 58) and Miray Akdag ( +90 532 624 93 56).