The Danish Refugee Council has been operating in the border areas of southeastern Turkey (Kilis, Hatay and Urfa) since 2013. With the protracted nature of the Syrian crisis and 1.7 million Syrian refugees already registered as of June 2015 (unofficially those figures are closer to 2.5 million), Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country. Even with the concerted efforts of the government, strong policies of social services, and the generosity of host communities, many refugees continue to live under very challenging circumstances with limited access to support. The vast majority of the refugees are Syrian. While the Turkish authorities have responded remarkably to the Syrian humanitarian crisis hosting 269,000 individuals in 25 refugee camps, further assistance and support is needed. The vast majority of refugees live outside the camps in urban and rural areas in southern Turkey in provinces along the border, with the largest concentrations in Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Hatay and Kilis. DRC’s support to refugees in Turkey focuses on the needs of this highly vulnerable non-camp population.

DRC Turkey Interventions

54,156 people were supported by DRC in 2017 including Syrian refugees and vulnerable people from Turkey. For these refugees, challenges include legal documents, access to services such as education and health, access to basic financial support, finding jobs and housing, learning the language, vulnerability to exploitation, and navigating an unfamiliar bureaucracy. As the Syrian conflict stretches into its eight year, the protracted nature of the refugee crisis requires long term and durable solutions that help refugees better integrate into local communities and the local economy. DRC Turkey’s response has been continually adapted to address the most changing needs of refugees in Turkey. DRC is focused on developing solutions to displacement in Turkey by strengthening the protective environment for refugees in Turkey together with government, civil society, refugees and host communities. DRC does so by focusing on strengthening of livelihoods and protection of the rights of the refugees in Turkey.

DRC employs a community-centred approach, running seven community centres in Hatay, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, and Kahramanmaraş. MFSSs and Community Centres provide a safe and creative environment for Syrian and local community. Through its community based protection teams, DRC disseminates information and provides awareness raising sessions on rights and obligations of Syrian refugees in Turkey and access to services. DRC also provide hotline translation service on the phone to ensure that both host community and refugee community members can communicate with each other. DRC protection teams provide tailored case management and individual protection assistance to assist vulnerable refugees in accessing services. DRC Turkey maintains a specific focus on combatting gender awareness raising on GBV-related issues including early marriage and intimate-partner violence, as well as providing tailored support to survivors of GBV. Additionally, DRC supports community committees made up of both Syrian and Turkish citizens to enhance positive interaction between refugees and hosts. These activities enhance interaction and integration of refugees in Turkish communities.

DRC provided general livelihood counselling to 4,462 individuals to identify their skills, educational backgrounds and career plans, directing them towards appropriate trainings and services. 608 individuals completed vocational and technical skills training in topics such as electronics maintenance and programming and 4,406 individual undertook transferrable skills trainings to improve their skills in Turkish, English, or a variety of employment skills. Individuals were also invited to attend one of DRC’s job fairs and register to DRC’s online job platform: StepUp. DRC also works to identify the needs in the Turkish labour market, and offer comprehensive job placement to beneficiaries.

DRC also offers productive asset support grants to help men and women access the equipment and supplies to start or expand home based businesses, in addition to small business grants for SMEs. In September 2017, DRC Turkey established a Business Development Centre in Hatay offering trainings, one-to-one coaching, networking, and opportunities for the entrepreneurs and Small-Medium Enterprises. DRC also launched Buy4Impact, a website linking the producers with the wider audience and hosts product fairs to help these entrepreneurs sell their wares to the community and suppliers.

DRC Strategic Focus

DRC aims to identify key duty bearers at local and central levels and define areas for collaboration, and capacity building and to strengthen local institutions, civil society and national NGOs by offering support, expertise and close collaboration. In addition, DRC looks to strengthen partnerships with local NGOs, CBOs and professional legal associations and to increase engagement with the private sector to create jobs and new opportunities for refugees. Besides filling protection gaps unmet by the public systems, DRC is also fully committed to working closely with Turkish Government in every step in its interventions to ensure that the response is integrated with existing public systems and best serves the needs of both refugees and host communities.

During 2017 and 2018, DRC has received financial support from ECHO, DANIDA, KfW, BPRM  and UNHCR.