News Stories

UNHCR Counselling Line: A Lifeline for Refugees in Türkiye

Türkiye continues to host one of the largest refugee populations in the world, over 3.3 million, mostly from Syria but also from Afghanistan, Iran, and elsewhere. Thanks to the flexible contributions of its long-term and reliable donor, the United States, UNHCR continues to respond to a wide range of needs from refugees and host community members.

Zukaa's Journey of Hope and Resilience

Zukaa, who fled Syria 9 years ago, continues to change her own life and inspire other women. With contributions from the United States, France, Norway, and other donors and in collaboration with partner NGOs, UNHCR continues to support and empower thousands of women like Zukaa with documentation, legal protection, education, and work opportunities.

Strings of Strength: Abdulkader's Educational and Musical Journey in Türkiye

Abdulkader, a Somali under international protection, is continuing his educational journey in Türkiye where he arrived in 2007 with his family after fleeing home to seek safety. A mere 12 years old at the time, he immersed himself in the Turkish language and culture. His determination not only propels his success as a final-year student at Mersin University but also provided him with UNHCR’s higher education scholarship programme called DAFI Scholarship Programme, which helped him through his education life in Türkiye.

On the Frontline

Farah is a call centre operator working at the UNHCR Türkiye Counselling Line. Along with her 50 colleagues, she receives various daily inquiries from refugees and asylum-seekers across the country and answers a wide range of questions.

Education: A Bridge to Hope and Opportunities

Education can be a powerful way to help reshape the lives of refugees, who have had to leave all they have known behind, including their educational foundations. 

Sport as a lifeline for a young Afghan refugee

Javad shows with pride his certificates of participation in various kickboxing competitions. His third-place finish at the national Turkish championship feels heavier than a gold medal, considering he can only afford one training per week. “

“Aile Babası”: A mobile game contributing to gender equality

Gender equality refers to the equal enjoyment of rights, responsibilities and opportunities of all people and means that the interests, needs and priorities of all are respected, regardless of their gender. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, recognizes gender equality as a fundamental right for the well-being of all people including those who had to flee their homes.

Earthquake survivors in Türkiye count the devastating toll

Ahmet Erkan and his family escaped last month’s disaster with their lives, but like many they lost loved ones and their home and now face a long and uncertain road to recovery.

Sports becoming a Beacon of Hope

Yasir is a 32-year-old father and an avid football player who was born in Mosul, Iraq. Yasir had his life turned upside down in just one day. After losing both legs in an explosion in Iraq in 2016, he fled to Türkiye with his family in search of security and peace. In his new life, sports present an opportunity to feel included and empowered.

A mother from Kyiv finds safety in Poland after days on the road

After a gruelling three-day car journey, Olga and her children are among hundreds of thousands who have fled Ukraine to find safety in neighbouring countries in recent days.

Building independent lives through higher education

With the support of the United States, persons in need of international protection in Turkey are supported to continue with university education, thereby building independent lives that benefit both host and refugee communities.

‘Knowledge is the best tool for self-development’: A story on combining passion with studies

Haysam is a twenty-four-year-old Syrian who lives with his brother in Turkey. He is currently a freshman at Ankara University, where he is studying health sciences. In spring 2021, he joined the Google Maharat min Programme, a new training initiative on digital marketing jointly launched by UNHCR and Google.

Building motivation through physical wellbeing

Thirteen-year-old Syrian, Mustafa returns to school and feels enthusiastic about meeting his friends in person after more than two semesters of online education.

Turning her artistic side into a real business, Qamar pursues her dreams

“I named my shop PenTool because it is the name of the most difficult graphic design and illustration tool, and I wanted everybody to know that I can do the most difficult things,” proudly explains Qamar, a 32-year-old Syrian woman from Aleppo, now living in Şanlıurfa, Turkey.

“Life is never linear”: A story of perseverance

Khaled is a 28-year-old Syrian who is living with his family in Istanbul, Turkey. He fled Syria six years ago, after his home was hit by a bomb – a moment that changed his life forever.

“Education gives voice. That’s what keeps me on track.”

German-funded DAFI scholarship provides support to higher education students by empowering them to contribute knowledge, skills and leadership and facilitate coexistence with host communities. Ghufran is one of them. 

Ambition for a business vision: Google trainings bring about innovative career prospects

In Turkey, persons in need of international protection are now benefitting from a new digital skills training provided through Google’s ‘Maharat min programme’. The initiative is an online training facilitated by Habitat, one of UNHCR’s NGO partners. It aims to teach key digital marketing skills and tools to young persons, including students, graduates, job seekers, entrepreneurs, and others.

‘Better communication, better social environment for everybody’: Ayad’s experience on the social cohesion activities

Thanks to the support of the United States of America, persons in need of international protection and their hosts build dynamic relationships through projects such as Dream Garden implemented by UNHCR and its partners.

An Emmy-winning account of bravery and resilience: Mohammed Eyad’s Story

Meeting a refugee is a different experience. It can be a shaking reality check for some and for others an inspiration to do more in life. Many of the definitions such as having a job, coming home, coming home to your family, stress of daily life, difficulties at work, conflicts with friends is different when you listen to a refugee.

Meet Omar: Philosophy, football, and dreams for the future

This is the story of Omar, a young refugee from Afghanistan, who has big plans for the future. With support from EU Humanitarian Aid and other donors, Omar and his family have received protection assistance from the Human Resource Development Foundation (HRDF), one of UNHCR’s protection partners.  HRDF is a local NGO active in eight provinces across Turkey. It aims at facilitating refugees’ access to protection services, while also providing psycho-social and legal support through a community-based approach.

Unilever Helps Persons Fleeing Their Homes Protect Themselves From Covid-19 in Turkey

Following the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, the multinational supplier company donated much-needed hygiene materials to UNHCR to distribute to persons in need of international protection and also to host community members in Turkey. The donation includes 300,000 disinfectants and 150,000 bars of soap.

A Jar of Soil from Syria

Syrian artist Akram’s story is one of art, perseverance and dedication. He shares his story of arriving and building a life in Turkey after the Syrian conflict forced him to leave behind his home and his art.

Persons in need of international protection and the host community members train side-by-side in pursuit of a professional career path

Opened in July 2018, The International Centre for Vocational Training (ICVT), run in collaboration with the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, provides Turkish language and vocational training for persons in need of international protection and the host community members.

From Pharmacist to Filmmaker: Malaz Usta

“After arriving in Turkey, I had bigger opportunities, I had a chance to study what I truly loved, I learned the language and started university, again! This time I was in a safe place, away from war.”

‘Lockdown as a dynamic opportunity’: Developing Turkish language skills in the time of COVID-19

Graduate Syrians under temporary protection and people in need of international protection of A1 and A2 level Turkish courses continue their learning process despite COVID-19 lockdowns.

UNHCR’s emergency cash assistance reaches over 85,000 families during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis

In partnership with Turkey’s Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), UNHCR helps to alleviate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable Syrians under temporary protection and international protection applicants and status holders.

Syrian Doctor Mustafa among first to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Turkey according to the vaccination plan

As a Syrian doctor under temporary protection in Turkey who received his vaccination, Doctor Mustafa Lölük says “I advise everyone to receive their shots when it is their turn. This is our responsibility towards one another.”

Japanese Junior Professional Officer: Haruko Kudo, UNHCR’s protection officer in Gaziantep

The Junior Professional Officers (JPO) programme invites new talent to UNHCR by offering young professionals an opportunity to obtain training and exposure to the organization’s humanitarian work either in field assignment or at headquarters.

“That moment has changed my life.” How a Syrian refugee woman turned her life around and is now helping others to do the same

This is the story of Leyla, a strong refugee woman from Syria. With the help of the Human Resource Development Foundation (HRDF), Leyla felt more empowered as a woman in Turkey and now, she is helping other female refugees lead more empowered lives. 

One call at a time: Providing continuous support during COVID-19

Thanks to the efforts of many counselling line operators like Neda, UNHCR Turkey’s Counselling Line continues supporting refugees and asylum-seekers during the ongoing pandemic period.

“Movie production is a great tool to promote social responsibility”

A refugee story letter on how to establish a business, build a network and become a successful entrepreneur in Turkey.

Providing a lifeline to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Turkey

In Turkey, UNHCR is providing monthly cash assistance to particularly vulnerable refugees at risk, who are not covered through other cash assistance schemes, including survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), thanks to EU Humanitarian Aid and other donors. 

Building Solidarity and Empathy through art: Janisha’s Story

15-year-old Janisha is one of the many children and young adults who took part in UNHCR’s Youth with Refugees Art Contest. Janisha’s drawing portrays her understanding of solidarity with refugees based on her experience living in Turkey’s city of Gaziantep, the city which hosts the second-largest number of refugees in Turkey after İstanbul.

Using Innovation and Technology to Support Refugees in Times of COVID-19 and Beyond

In this interview, Marco Rotunno talks about why communicating with refugees is an essential component of UNHCR’s work in Turkey and the significance of digital tools – which are supported by the EU and other donors – to engage with refugees and asylum-seekers, especially in the time of COVID-19.

Quality legal assistance changes the lives of refugees and asylum-seekers for the better

In collaboration with the Union of Turkish Bar Associations [UTBA] and UNHCR, three legal clinics in Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep and Hatay work to deliver legal assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers.

Syrian refugees learn Turkish for better communication with the host community members in Turkey

Better language skills help refugees to become more self-reliant in Turkey for which UNHCR continues to work together with its partners.

DAFI scholarship programme helps refugee students at university to pursue their career dreams for a better future

“This semester at university has gone by so fast and I am learning a lot from  this dynamic environment” says Linas, a 22-year-old Syrian DAFI scholarship student who currently studies architecture at a university in Ankara.

Social cohesion activities and language courses bring together refugees and host community members

“Access to education can be one of the greatest ways to help you thrive, especially when you have peers who are supportive towards you” says Zahra, who is a 15-year-old Iraqi refugee living with her family in Samsun.

For Fazila, learning the local language is the key to a new world

“Not only do I get to improve my Turkish language skills, but it also helps with my mental well-being as I interact with others & make new friends here,” says Fazila who attends daily UNHCR-supported Turkish language courses in Van.

Turkey scholarship lets star Syrian student pursue dentistry dream

After fleeing Aleppo in 2013, Sidra’s dream of studying dentistry became a reality thanks to her own determination and Turkey’s support for refugee higher education.

Meet Helen, one of our valued colleagues in Ankara

Interviewing refugees for resettlement has helped Helen to better understand the reasons why refugees are uprooted from their homes and the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.

UNHCR’s Cash-Based Incentives provide opportunities for refugees to shape their lives and accomplish their dreams

Ahmad arrived in Turkey as an unaccompanied minor and is now a student of architecture. His inspiring story was made possible through UNHCR’s cash-based assistance programme.

Iraqi artist opens his third exhibition at the UNHCR-supported ASAM Centre in Istanbul

“This city has changed my perspective and has been an inspiration for my art. I would like to thank all who supported me and gave me the chance to spread love, peace, and culture through art,” says Iraqi artist, Majed Al Abedi, as he opens his third exhibition at the UNHCR-supported ASAM Centre in Istanbul.

Support from the People of Japan improves adolescent refugees’ lives through life skills sessions

When I arrive to meet Selma at the location in Mardin, I thank her for her time and for missing her guitar lesson to meet with me.

“When I could not speak Turkish, life was really tough.”

On a hot afternoon in Turkey’s capital Ankara, we speak to Enas, 23, and her brother Mohammed, 24 years-old, sitting next to each other in the campus of the university where Mohammed studies.

Istanbul’s Arabic library for bookish Syrians

Syrian refugee Nada struggled to find books in Arabic when she came to Turkey, so she set up a library that offers other refugees an affordable way to read.

Technology turns aspiring architect’s dreams into virtual reality

Teenager Mohammed Kteish dreamt of becoming an architect as he was growing up in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

A Syrian woman resonates resilience and hope

Mizgin, a Syrian refugee at her 36, has been successfully juggling several roles she has assumed in life.  As a woman, she has come to be more resilient, facing challenges that had been unknown to her before and growing more confident as she overcame them.

A young Somalian refugee takes confident steps towards her dreams

Ilham, a 22-year Somali refugee living in Turkey, is an inspiring young woman. After overcoming many difficulties as a child, she is on her way to fulfilling her dream of having a career in radio and television.

UNHCR enhances its outreach to asylum-seekers and refugees through the ‘Help’ website

Help launched today and accessible at will serve as UNHCR’s online interface for information intended for asylum-seekers and refugees in Turkey.

A story told through the universal language of music

In one of Istanbul’s oldest settlements on the Bosporus, in Emirgan district, lively chats and laughter of women are resonating across the rooms of the old mansion’s second floor.

Through Amira’s eyes

Amira fled her hometown in the Aleppo region in March 2015, embarking on a long journey that took her and her two children to Istanbul.

Barat's Journey

This is the story of Barat, who escaped war in Afghanistan and -with an unexpected health issue- ended up with a struggle of his own in Turkey.

Young refugees tell their stories

With the participation of refugee youth, Hacettepe University Faculty of Communication Digital Storytelling Unit, in cooperation with UNHCR Ankara, organized a Digital Storytelling Workshop in May 2017.

Mother’s dedication inspires 20-year-old to academic success in Turkey

A bomb killed her mother in the family’s café in Aleppo. Now Fatima is studying civil engineering with ambitions to move further up the academic ladder.

The man who changes lives

A Turkish entrepreneur provides Syrian refugees with shelter and food, and helps them clear the bureaucratic hurdles to obtain work permits.

Darie Alikaj fled barrel bombs and mortar fire in Syria, leaving behind her job as a microbiologist. Now she mirrors a wider world of refugee survival in Turkey.

A Syrian scientist in exile

Darie Alikaj fled barrel bombs and mortar fire in Syria, leaving behind her job as a microbiologist. Now she mirrors a wider world of refugee survival in Turkey.

Four million Syrians have registered as refugees. Ivra, a teenage girl who fled to Turkey, gives voice to their loss.

A childhood cut short by Syria’s war

Four million Syrians have registered as refugees. Ivra, a teenage girl who fled to Turkey, gives voice to their loss.

Pulled in two directions

A Syrian family from Raqqa flee again and again, driven out by conflict but drawn back by the pull of their beloved homeland.

Becoming a refugee at the age of 70 with serious health situation

“Before the war, I led a happy and well-off life, owning a house, a shop and a car. After working so hard for years, I was finally retired and hoped that my life would now be easier and more peaceful,” he said.

Whirlwind of violence surprises some residents in northern Syria

Faysal thought that the conflict plaguing Syria since March 2011 had bypassed his home in the north, so he was stunned when the whirlwind of violence came recently to Kobane (Ayn al-Arab).

The journey to safety from Ayn Al Arab for a family of 7 children including a new-born

Hamide, who is 36 years old and a mother of 7 children, tells us, “I can’t describe my feelings, my 6 children became refugees, but my 7th child was born as a refugee…

Syrian Refugees: The kindness of a stranger in a southern Turkey border town

Mahmut left his tourism business in Istanbul to come and help Syrian refugees in the town of Akcakale. He is now hosting three grateful families in his large family house.

Syrian refugee women battle boredom and bad memories by making carpets

A group of about 40 women in Adıyaman camp find a way to occupy their time, making carpets under a project set up and sponsored by the camp management.

Syrian long jump champion aims far after hard landing in Turkey

Since arriving in Urfa, Abdul Rahman has learnt Turkish and is looking for work. But when he tells people he is Syrian, they say there is no job.

Syrian refugees support each other even as numbers rise

In Turkey’s Kilis province, Syrian refugees now form a third of the population, with thousands camping in a park in the provincial centre. And the number keeps rising.

Paris museum organizes toy collection for Syrian refugee children

Quai Branly Museum collects toys from French students, packs them into 60 boxes and sends them to Syrian children in Turkey with the help of UNHCR and others.

Keeping Occupied in Turkey’s Adıyaman camp for Syrian Refugees

UNHCR teams are present on a regular basis in all the refugee camps and provide technical assistance to the Turkish authorities on all protection-related concerns.

Syrian refugees get chance to attend Turkish universities

The Turkish government is letting Syrian refugees apply for university places and waiving the fees.