Today the number, complexity and protracted nature of today’s conflicts mean that forced displacement has reached a level unprecedented since the founding of the United Nations itself; substantially over 70 million people are now uprooted around the world as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations. Turkey continues to host the largest number of refugees worldwide.
Since 1960, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been working in close cooperation with Turkey on asylum and refugee issues. Turkey and UNHCR signed a Host Country Agreement on 1 September 2016, which formalizes and strengthens this existing collaboration. UNHCR’s Turkey operation is one of its largest operations globally with an office in Ankara and field presence in İstanbul, İzmir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Şanlıurfa and Van.
UNHCR was established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly with a mandate to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.
Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and to find safe refuge in another State, with the option to eventually return home voluntarily, integrate locally or resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.
In Turkey, the main areas of UNHCR’s work are as follows:
- leading and coordinating the efforts of the United Nations agencies in support of Turkey’s response to the Syria refugee crisis.
- strengthening the protection environment and access to social support mechanisms available in Turkey for people in need of international protection;
- working in close support of the Turkish authorities, providing humanitarian aid to refugees in camps and in urban areas;
- supporting and contributing to institutional and legislative capacity increasing activities for the strengthening of the national asylum system.