DRC began operations in Turkey in 2013 in response to the Syrian refugee crises with the aim to enhance the capacities and self-reliance of refugees and the affected Turkish host communities. As the conflict stretches on in Syria, DRC remains committed to developing durable solutions that serve the needs of more than 3.6 million displaced Syrians and other refugees and migrants currently living in Turkey. DRC works in the south-eastern provinces of Turkey (Hatay, Şanlıurfa, Kilis and Kahramanmaraş), which host some of the highest numbers of Syrian refugees, and with partners in Istanbul and Adana, DRC works in collaboration with local civil society organisations, state institutions, local municipalities and Chamber of Commerce in all areas of operation. 

Even with the concerted efforts of the government, strong policies of social services, and the generosity of Turkish host communities, many refugees continue to live under very challenging circumstances with limited access to support. For these refugees, challenges include lack of awareness regarding legal documentation services provided by the government and other agencies, how to access services such as education, health, ESSN (Emergency Social Safety Net), 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 ninth 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

DRC Turkey’s response has been regularly adapted to address the changing needs of refugees in Turkey. DRC is focused on developing solutions to displacement in Turkey by enhancing 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 and host communities in Turkey. In 2018, DRC activities directly reached 74,783 refugees, migrants and host community members in Turkey.

In 2019, DRC activities directly reached 28,3332 refugees, migrants and host community members in Turkey. (as of October 2019)

DRC’s overall objective in Turkey is: To strengthen the protective environment and enhance livelihood opportunities for protracted displacement-affected and migrant populations in Turkey.

DRC Turkey‘s interventions

DRC Turkey is one of the leading protection agencies in the Southeast of Turkey. In 2019, the protection programme of DRC provided over 14,000 beneficiaries with various services including information dissemination, tailored case management, awareness raising sessions, awareness raising sessions on gender based violence and negative coping mechanisms. DRC operates Multi-Functional Safe Spaces (MFSS) which provide a safe environment for refugees and local community members, and a place where they can meet. They create solidarity links and improve their well-being through numerous activities, trainings and events. 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 provides translation services through a telephone hotline to refugees facing difficulties accessing services due to language barriers. In 2019, DRC received on average 800 calls to the hotline from beneficiaries per month. 

DRC protection teams also provide tailored case management and individual protection assistance to assist vulnerable refugees in accessing services and mitigate identified protection risks.  

In addition to the general protection activities, DRC Turkey also maintains a specific focus on combatting gender based violence (GBV) through awareness raising on GBV-related issues including early marriage and intimate-partner violence, as well as providing tailored support to survivors of GBV.  

Economic Recovery
The economic recovery programme of DRC focuses on strengthening social and economic self-reliance among refugees through helping them access jobs or start their own businesses. For this purpose, DRC Turkey provides a variety of trainings in both technical and soft skills to individuals, as well as support to entrepreneurs and business owners. DRC’s Economic Recovery programme implements activities in Hatay, Şanlıurfa, Kilis and Kahramanmaraş.

In 2019, DRC provided general livelihood counselling to more than 4,000 individuals to identify their skills, educational backgrounds and career plans, helping direct them towards appropriate trainings and services. Following the counselling, more than 800 individuals completed vocational and technical skills training in topics such as electronics maintenance and programming etc., and more than 4,000 individuals undertook transferrable skills trainings to improve their skills in Turkish, English, or a variety of employment skills. Individuals were also invited to attend DRC’s job fairs.

To support entrepreneurs and business owners, DRC offers productive asset support (PAS) grants to help men and women access the equipment and supplies to start or expand home-based income generation activities, in addition to small business grants for SMEs. 

In September 2017, DRC Turkey established a Business Development Centre (BDC) in Hatay in collaboration with Hatay Chamber of Commerce; offering trainings, one-to-one coaching, networking, and opportunities for the entrepreneurs and Small-Medium Enterprises. In 2019, DRC provided more than 200 PAS grants and supported over 300 SMEs and entrepreneurs through the BDC in Hatay. The economic recovery programme is supported by DANIDA and the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW.

Mine Risk Education
The ongoing conflict in Syria has displaced millions of people inside and outside the country creating an international humanitarian crisis, and the extensive use of explosive weapons throughout the conflict has resulted in widespread contamination with landmines, Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which now threaten the safety of the Syrian population including those displaced within and outside Syria but visiting property and family in the country, and those hoping to return. The border corridor stretching from Hatay to Sanliurfa (including Kilis) remains the most common land crossing point for refugees, and is a hub for those returning to the Turkish controlled areas of Syria. Given extensive contamination, ensuring Syrian refugees are equipped with knowledge of contamination and how to practice safe behaviours is vital. 

The Danish Demining Group (DDG) started activities in Turkey in 2013 in Sanliurfa and Hatay, expanded to Kilis in 2015.The overall objective of the DDG intervention is to reduce the number of civilian casualties caused by landmines and ERW by increasing the awareness of the risks and hazards related to landmines and ERW and promoting safe behaviour amongst the affected population and humanitarian workers. In the longer term, these initiatives will contribute to safe return and access to conflict-affected areas and enable socio-economic recovery. 

2019 Strategic focus

In 2019, DRC intends to continue its operations in the south-east provinces of Turkey, which host some of the highest numbers of Syrian refugees, second after Istanbul, namely Hatay, Sanliurfa, Kilis and Kahramanmaras, in addition to serving refugees in other provinces by working with local partners. In 2019, DRC aims to strengthen its strategic partnerships with Turkish and Syrian civil society organisations, and further improve collaborations with the Government of Turkey. The 2019-2020 strategy will increasingly adopt a durable solutions approach by investing in aspects of social cohesion and building local capacities. 

DRC Turkey focuses on interventions in three sectors – (a) Protection and Mixed Migration, (b) Livelihoods/Economic Recovery, (c) Mine Risk Education/travel safety information. In these sectors, DRC has set a programme direction for 2019. 

DRC Turkey programming is made possible thanks to the generous support from: