The refugee situation in Turkey is of great concern to humanitarian actors. Approximately 90% of the estimated 3.5 million refugees settled in the country live outside of UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) operated camps. The main durable solution for these populations is integration into Turkish society.
Integration is commonly understood as a multidimensional, longterm, and non-linear process that is influenced by the institutional environment of the receiving society, and the personal capacities of the settling population. It is achieved when the settling population is able to enjoy the same rights and access to welfare services (e.g., hospitals, schools, workplaces, etc.) as citizens and legal residents of the host country (see the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees). Spatial and social segregation are key challenges to this achievement.
While the nature of the integration process generally differs from country to country, UNHCR recognises a need for standardised indicators that can be used to compare situations across countries and regions, and to assess the success of various aid efforts. Indeed, as integration requires actions from a variety of stakeholders (including different levels of government, NGOs, welfare service providers, etc.), evaluating the outcomes of targeted programmes and policies can prove extremely difficult.
Most data on integration comes from population registers, administrative records, censuses, and surveys. While these are mostly consistent data sources that are based on large and well understood population samples, they typically suffer from providing only snapshots (p.18) of refugees’ situations at specific points in time. They also rely heavily on self-reporting, and tend to miss key information on refugees' social networks and ties with local communities. Survey and administrative data further tend to provide only a short-term view of refugees' experiences, as these are mainly collected during the early stages of their integration (p.20), when humanitarian organizations are in most frequent contact with the populations. Call Detail Records (CDRs) disaggregated by identification document status thus offer a unique opportunity to gain deeper insights into the dynamic nature of refugees' integration processes.