11 January 2018, Ankara – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched a new project to support Turkey in the field of refugee protection and to enhance access to services for refugees and asylum-seekers in Turkey. The 21-month project is being financially supported by the European Union with EUR 25 million under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.
Turkey hosts over 3.4 million registered Syrian refugees and over 350,000 refugees and asylum-seekers of different nationalities. Turkey provides asylum and is leading the response to persons in need of international protection, with UNHCR continuing to support, jointly with partners, the implementation of Turkey’s legislative and institutional framework on international and temporary protection with a view to enable access to rights and services by persons of its concern. The specific objective of this project is to contribute to the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers in Turkey through registration, the provision of protection support, protection monitoring, enhanced communication with communities and strengthened coordination among relevant actors.
The European Commission aims to ensure that the projects it funds go beyond responding to the material needs of refugees to tackle the broader issues of their safety and dignity. Jane Lewis, the Head of the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations in Turkey, notes that “refugees in Turkey have access to a range of social services provided by and through different public institutions, including health and education. The fulfilment of refugee rights and obligations is sometimes made difficult, however by a lack of information on the legal framework. We attach great importance to this project which will improve conditions of vulnerable refugees in Turkey.”
UNHCR Representative in Turkey, Katharina Lumpp, welcomes the project and underlines that “Turkey is generously responding to the needs of a great number of refugees, and such response requires adequate support. This project provides for a significant contribution for UNHCR in pursuing its priorities in Turkey. These priorities include strengthening refugee protection by supporting national systems and facilitating access of refugees to services, provided by national and local institutions in Turkey”.
Throughout the project UNHCR will continue to closely work with and support the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) to carry out registration, and support identification, referral and case management for persons with specific needs and vulnerabilities. UNHCR will also strengthen communication with communities through increased use of information materials and tools, in-person outreach and counselling. Coordination among the different actors providing protection and assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers in Turkey is of great importance: in this regard the project will also support UNHCR’s inter-agency coordination and information management efforts.
A key component of the project focuses on legal aid. In collaboration with the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (UTBA), access to legal aid services by refugees and asylum-seekers will be facilitated and strengthened in 18 provinces across Turkey. Among the activities to support access to legal aid services by UTBA, piloting a system for the identification and tracking of cases is planned as are special training courses for lawyers.
Hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, Turkey is providing protection to all persons who are in need of international protection. With the important financial support of the European Union, UNHCR is able to strengthen its partnership and cooperation with relevant stakeholders with a view to improve the response to the needs of refugees in Turkey.