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Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population with over 4 million currently registered. Despite the efforts of the Government of Turkey and the generosity of host communities, many refugees in Turkey live under challenging circumstances with limited access to support. For these refugees, challenges include obtaining legal protection and documentation whilst navigating an unfamiliar, complicated bureaucracy; accessing services such as education, health, and basic financial support; finding jobs and confronting exploitation; affording adequate housing and basic needs; as well as facing barriers to social integration such as language and cultural separation.
Since March 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic has had a profound impact on the economy of Turkey and livelihoods of refugees and host communities alike, pushing more people into poverty and exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities.
DRC has been active in Turkey since 2013 with the aim to enhance the capacities and self-reliance of refugees and vulnerable host communities affected by displacement. DRC operates in southeastern provinces of Turkey, which host some of the highest numbers of Syrian refugees, second after Istanbul, in addition to serving refugees in other parts of the country through local partners. DRC is recognised as a leading actor within the protection and economic recovery sectors. Turkey is also host to refugees and migrants from countries other than Syria, with arrivals from Afghanistan significantly increasing in recent years. Therefore, DRC has adapted its programming to contribute to issues related to mixed migration, in addition to responding to the Syrian displacement.
As a single mother and a refugee, Khawla has learned her life lessons and now works in empowering refugee women in Turkey.