Close to 4 million refugees

Turkey continues to host the world’s largest refugee population.

Predominantly out of camp

More than 98 per cent of refugees in Turkey live outside of camps in urban and peri-urban areas.

Mostly children and women

70 per cent of refugees in Turkey are children and women.

Working with Partners

The Government of Turkey leads the refugee response with UNHCR providing direct operational support, capacity building and technical advice to Turkish authorities. As the refugee agency, UNHCR also coordinates the efforts of UN agencies and partners to support Turkey’s refugee response to avoid duplication and gaps in international assistance. UNHCR implements its activities with 19 government, UN and NGO partners.

Main Activities

Registration and Refugee Status Determination

  • The Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), as the national authority entrusted by the Law on Foreigners and International Protection, is responsible for registering and processing international protection applications. UNHCR has provided support to DGMM during its formation process, including registration of international protection applicants and referral processes. As of 10 September 2018, UNHCR stopped registering foreigners wishing to apply for international protection in Turkey. In close consultation with DGMM, UNHCR continues case processing within the context of resettlement considerations.
  • Pursuant to the Law on Foreigners and International Protection, foreigners who would like to apply for international protection in Turkey shall approach the Provincial Directorates of Migration Management (PDMM) in the cities upon entry to the country. PDMMs will initiate and undertake registration and further processing of the international protection applications lodged by individuals.
  • UNHCR continues its protection activities, including delivery of counselling services, to refugees and asylum-seekers in Turkey. UNHCR will continue to have access to international protection applicants and, subject to the consent of the applicant, to the information concerning the international protection application lodged by the individual.
  • Support the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) to conduct a verification exercise to update and obtain missing information on Syrian refugees under Temporary Protection, including biometric data, contact information, and detailed background information such as occupation, education and vulnerability on refugees. Verification is being introduced as a continuous part of registration. The project began in January 2017 and will be rolled out in all 81 Provinces divided into seven Zones.
  • Strengthening national registration and RSD procedure through provision of technical and material support. UNHCR is further strengthening its cooperation with DGMM to build a strong and quality national asylum system and RSD procedures.


  • Implement a resettlement programme based on a rigorous prioritizationof cases with the most acute vulnerabilities or protection risks. Approximately 17,000 refugees were submitted for resettlement in 2017, and the current target for 2018 is 20,000.


  • Strengthen partnerships with frontline institutions and upscale advocacy initiatives with Turkish authorities concerning registration, access to asylum and protection, for persons of concern. In addition, improving access to legal remedies and assistance remains a priority.
  • Provide legislative support to ensure that laws and policies incorporate principles and standards compliant with international refugee law; promote coherence of actions on the ground with the legal framework; and ensure that refugees enjoy their rights and access to services which promote self-reliance.
  • Support integration of refugees and asylum-seekers into public servicesin sectors such as education, health, social assistance, child protection, legal representation, prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and support to persons with specific needs and vulnerabilities to ensure persons of concern benefit from existing protection mechanisms. In close cooperation with line ministries and municipalities, persons of concern’s access to social services is facilitated to promote sustainability of the response and improve social cohesion.
  • Ensure timely access of persons of concern to accurate information and counselling through a network of partners in the field and the UNHCR-ASAM Counselling Line opened in March 2017.
  • Identify and assess the specific needs of persons of concern and address them through appropriate assistance and referrals to social support mechanisms and/or resettlement to third countries. UNHCR addresses the protection needs of asylum seekers and refugees in coordination with state institutions and NGO partners
  • UNHCR provides cash and non-cash assistance to vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, directly and through partner organizations.
  • Reach out and communicate with refugees to engage them directly in protection responses. In line with the community-based protection and through the systematic application of the age, gender diversity (AGD) approaches UNHCR seeks to ensure that all refugees enjoy their right on an equal footing and are able to participate fully in the decisions that affect their lives.
  • Cooperate with legal actors to enhance refugees’ access to justice by providing legal aid and representation and promoting effective remedies in collaboration with institutions such as the Justice Academy and the Union of Bar Associations. MoUs signed with both institutions aim at systematizing these efforts across the country.
  • Support frontline institutions dealing with mixed migratory flowsto sustain their reception capacity including identification of groups with special needs and efficient use of referral mechanisms.
  • Build on the capacities of refugee and Turkish youth by engaging with youth as community leaders and activists of today to promote social cohesion amongst the different communities in Turkey, advance to the values of education, increase awareness and address the protection concerns and challenges.
  • Develop capacity building activities to strengthen technical abilities of national authorities and humanitarian partners to ensure implementation of a rights-based approach and efficient implementation of the legal framework.
  • Harmonize provision of assistance and services between Syrians and refugees and asylum-seekers of other nationalities to ensure that the nature and the level of assistance provided by UNHCR and its partners is provided equally, to the maximum extent possible.
  • Strengthen the capacity of NGO partners to identify cases with specific needs and child protection issues as well as improve their case management capacity.


  • Bolster the efforts of the authorities to ensure access to education for school-age children through community outreach on educational services as well as procuring Turkish language textbooks and helping prepare children to enrol in schools.
  • In partnership with the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), provide scholarships for advanced Turkish language programmes to enable high school graduates to meet language proficiency requirements for enrolment in higher education. Also, scholarships are awarded to Syrians through UNHCR’s DAFI Turkey’s higher education scholarship to cover tuition, accommodation and other related costs.

Community Empowerment and Self-Reliance

  • Developing skills, capacities and talents of refugees through empowerment programmes and activities, as means of attaining self-reliance and promoting community support mechanisms and practices.
  • Increasing economic inclusion of refugees and their access to the labour market to prevent and mitigate the use of negative coping mechanisms, as well as to promote livelihoods, resilience, and social cohesion. Cooperation and partnerships with private sector actors are also being enhanced to promote refugee employment.

Basic Needs

  • Provide essential relief items, through partners, to those most in need in urban areas.
  • Support improvement of WASH conditions through the provision of hygiene kits to refugee populations as well as shower, WC and accommodation containers to frontline institutions.
  • Provide essential relief items and transportation support to those most in need in Temporary Accommodation Centres (TACs).
  • Support strengthening the service capacity of provincial authorities and municipalities through the provision of direct support and support through partners.

Cash-Based Interventions

  • DGMM and UNHCR have been implementing the Alternative to Camps programmes since end of August 2018, and UNHCR has provided relocation grants to refugees and asylum-seekers who left 9 Temporary Accommodation Centres in Southeast Turkey following their closure or decongestion, to settle in urban contexts. The grant was meant to cover the expenses of the refugee families for the first three months after moving out of the centres, and it was provided to approximately 60 thousand individuals until the end of 2018.
  • Deliver monthly cash assistance to particularly vulnerable refugees facing specific protection risks.
  • UNHCR’s financial service provider in Turkey is PTT. Through its numerous outlets in the country, the cash is disbursed to beneficiaries with prepaid cards.

Camp Coordination and Camp Management

  • Within the scope of the Government of Turkey’s Temporary Accommodation Centres (TACs) phase-out or consolidation strategy, UNHCR will continue to provide the necessary logistical support where requested, to ensure that transfers of residents and their personal belongings from point of departure to destination TACs can be conducted in a seamless and efficient manner. The refugees choosing to move to an urban location will be supported through cash-based interventions (CBI) in order to facilitate their smooth integration within the host community.
  • Replacement tents are also provided as requested. 

Raising public awareness

  • UNHCR Turkeys implements an integrated communication strategy through traditional media and enhanced use of social media and interactive platforms to raise public awareness on the situation of refugees and others of concern, garner public support and understanding towards refugees and the work of UNHCR.