The precarious lives and survival strategies of unaccompanied Afghan youth in Türkiye

Bulgurcuoğlu S. E., ATASÜ TOPCUOĞLU R.

Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, vol.32, no.4, pp.660-684, 2023 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 32 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/01171968241235238
  • Journal Name: Asian and Pacific Migration Journal
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, American History and Life, Educational research abstracts (ERA), Historical Abstracts, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.660-684
  • Keywords: Afghanistan, masculinity, patriarchy, precarity, survival strategies, Türkiye, unaccompanied children/youth
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Unaccompanied children who do not or cannot access the child protection system in Türkiye often become engaged in child labor and find themselves living in precarity. This paper highlights narratives of survival within their culturally-assumed transition to manhood based on empirical research on the life experiences of 12 unaccompanied, male Afghan youth who came to Türkiye as unaccompanied children. These narratives reflect patriarchal culture, particularly the Taliban’s extreme manifestations of patriarchy, both in a context of war and violence. Unaccompanied Afghan children migrate for survival and, after dangerous journeys, live as irregular migrants. Their daily life is marked by (1) fear of police and deportation, (2) child labor, (3) long and challenging work routines, (4) lack of leisure time, schooling, adult protection or support and (5) lack of social security. As a result, they develop survival strategies to manage their precarious lives. Their narratives share commonalities focusing on the conditionalities of constructing manhood.