All refugees are migrants, but not all migrants are refugees. Different people use different definitions of “refugee”.  In the broadest sense, it refers to someone who is seeking refuge, a place of safety.

Resettlement is one strategy to manage migration in emergencies. Resettlement refers to the organized transfer of refugees, displaced persons and other individuals in need of international migration services for whom arrangements may be made between the involved stakeholders and the concerned states.

A refugee is someone who is outside his/her country of nationality because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.  This is the definition in the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, and the one used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In summary, a refugee must:

  • Be outside his/her country of origin;
  • Have fled due to a well-founded fear of persecution;
  • The persecution must be based on at least one of the five grounds listed in the 1951 Convention definition, i.e. race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group; persecution based on sexual orientation is a category added more recently;

Be unwilling or unable to seek the protection of their country of origin or habitual residence.

Who is a Refugee?

Resettlement is a sometimes unrecognized yet compelling instrument and symbol of international solidarity and burden sharing to find a durable solution for refugees who are unable to return to their country of origin for fear of continued persecution and do not have the option to stay in their country of asylum.

How Resettlement Works:

IOM works closely with governments, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), non-government organizations, and other partners. The process begins with UNHCR who identifies, interviews, and submits refugee cases to countries for resettlement consideration.  IOM has cooperative agreements with these countries to provide specific resettlement service which may include: Case processing, Health Assessments, Pre-Departure Orientation, and Movement. Upon arrival, resettlement countries provide refugees with legal and physical protection, including access to civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals. Most refugees eventually become naturalized citizens of their country of resettlement.

What IOM does in Turkey:

IOM Turkey handles resettlement programs for the refugees and migrants to more than 20 countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, and European Union countries. Programs are funded by a number of donors in relevant countries, including the US State Department, Canadian Immigration Services, and the Australian Government. The US Refugee Program (USRAP) is one of the largest continuing activities of IOM and currently operates in over 40 countries.

USA - IOM facilitates resettlement to the United States under the USRAP in close cooperation with the Turkish authorities, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Resettlement Support Center (RSC), run by International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) in Turkey who provide information to migrants about life in the United States. 

Canada - IOM Turkey provides assistance to refugees accepted under the Canada Refugees Program, in addition to families seeking reunification. With the support of the Embassy of Canada, IOM provides Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) sessions to migrants accepted for resettlement to Canada. COA, funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, provides migrants of all categories accurate information about life in Canada and helps migrants to develop realistic expectations regarding their settlement in Canada and provides transportation arrangements to Canada bound Refugees.

Australia - On behalf of the Government of Australia, IOM provides transportation arrangements, assists with pre-departure medical screenings, to ensure that refugees and special humanitarian entrants to Australia are medically able to travel. IOM also provides Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) courses to all applicants accepted under the program.  IOM assists refugees to fill visa application forms to Australia after they have been referred by UNHCR

United Kingdom – On behalf of the UK Government, IOM does medical health assessments, provides UK Cultural Orientation classes, pre-departure medical screenings, and transportation arrangements to the refugees.

Europe – In addition to transportation arrangements, IOM Turkey provides cultural orientation training, health assessments, and pre-departure medical screenings for several European countries, as required by specific counties’ programs.  When migrants first move to a new place, the hardest part is often integration. When language and cultural backgrounds are diverse, this integration can be even more challenging.  Cultural orientation programs help refugees and host communities learn about each other. Integration works best when refugees and host communities both have a good understanding of each other’s expectations, as well as their cultural practices, similarities and differences.

Other Movement Assistance

IOM Turkey also provides onsite transit assistance to migrants traveling with IOM’s assistance.  IOM Turkey works closely with Turkish airport authorities to ensure the smooth and timely transfer of passengers through Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport. IOM’s transit assistance provides an extra level of security to migrants on the move.  From the time they land to the time they board the flight, IOM is there to ensure the migrant safely continues on his journey.