By Sile and Helen, International Protection Policy Team
The Refugee Council is rightly known for the vital support and assistance it provides on a daily basis to a large community of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. But what about the stuff we do behind the scenes… the groundbreaking research, the targeted lobbying, the valuable capacity building? We are delighted to report from one of the Refugee Council’s most exciting and innovative endeavours – the Protection-Sensitive Borders Project. This project has taken us from the streets of Leeds and London to the boardrooms of Brussels and beyond. This very posting comes to you from the bustling city of Istanbul, ancient Ottoman city and gateway to central Asia – where east meets west and ornate mosques dominate the skyline.
So, what on earth are we doing in Istanbul?
Well, we’re not here for the kebabs, that’s for sure. Istanbul is the first stop on a 3-week research trip that seeks to gather information on the implementation of UK extra-territorial border controls and the impact of these controls on individuals fleeing persecution. During the trip we will carry out interviews with airlines, government representatives, journalists, legal advisors, key agencies providing support and advice to refugees and, hopefully, some refugees themselves. We’re in Istanbul for a week, followed by another week in Ankara and finally a visit to Van, in the far east of Turkey where UNHCR provides a large programme of assistance to refugees who have fled over the border from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
We’ve got a packed schedule, a laptop and not a word of Turkish between us, so keep checking the blog to read our updates and to discover more about how the Refugee Council is having an impact on the international stage.