Assessing Refugees’ Onward Mobility with Mobile Phone Data—A Case Study of (Syrian) Refugees in Turkey

  • Harald SterlyEmail author
  • Benjamin Etzold
  • Lars Wirkus
  • Patrick Sakdapolrak
  • Jacob Schewe
  • Carl-Friedrich Schleussner
  • Benjamin Hennig


Secondary or onward mobility of refugees can pose considerable challenges for targeted and timely humanitarian assistance, and for long-term integration. There is very little systematic knowledge of the onward migration of refugees after their initial flight to a country of reception in general, and specifically in Turkey. In this chapter, we describe how the analysis of mobile phone Call Details Records can help to better understand spatio-temporal patterns of refugees’ onwards mobility. The analysis reveals some clear, large-scale mobility patterns (from South to North, from East to West, from Centre to the Coast, to large urban areas), and also some temporal patterns, but also shows that human mobility is complex and accordingly requires more advanced analytical tools. We conclude that it might be worth of re-framing registration policies for refugees, given the highly mobile share of refugee population, and the important role that this mobility probably plays for livelihoods.



We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the D4R challenge organizers and Türk Telekom for setting up the challenge and for providing us with the datasets.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harald Sterly
    • 1
    Email author
  • Benjamin Etzold
    • 2
  • Lars Wirkus
    • 2
  • Patrick Sakdapolrak
    • 1
  • Jacob Schewe
    • 3
  • Carl-Friedrich Schleussner
    • 4
  • Benjamin Hennig
    • 5
  1. 1.University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Bonn International Center for ConversionBonnGermany
  3. 3.Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany
  4. 4.Climate Analytics gGmbHBerlinGermany
  5. 5.University of IcelandReykjavìkIceland

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