The political and social crisis which began in Syria in 2011 has degenerated into a brutal civil war, killing more than 400 000 people and forcing 11 million from their homes. The EU provides critical support for refugees who have fled to neighbouring Turkey, focusing in particular on protecting vulnerable groups such as children, women and the elderly; delivering education and health services; and strengthening the capacity of Turkish host communities to absorb displaced Syrians.
The EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) makes a vital contribution to this overall effort. “With the protracted crisis, more support to Turkish local authorities and local service providers has become key,” explains Laura Liguori, the Crisis Response Officer dealing with Foreign Policy Instruments at the EU Delegation to Turkey.
Two IcSP projects for example — run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) — address cultural, health, and community needs. The first involves establishing multi-service community centres to assist Syrian refugees who live in urban centres (rather than refugee camps). One centre is in Sultanbeyli with a medical clinic in Fatih — both working-class suburbs of Istanbul — while another centre is in Antakya near the Syrian border.
In Istanbul, the centre runs a wide range of activities including cultural activities, such as joint musical events for Turkish and Syrian young people, and getting women from both communities to mix and work together through actions like cooking traditional food. The Antakya centre is bigger and includes a school, a psycho-social support clinic and a vocational training facility. By December 2016, almost 125 000 Syrians had benefited from them, and over 49 000 had also received healthcare from the primary health clinic in the Fatih district of Istanbul.
The second IcSP-funded project aims to support the over half a million Syrians who live in Gaziantep and Sanliurfa provinces. In partnership with the UNDP, the EU is working with Turkish authorities to alleviate pressure on basic services, including waste management. A training and awareness campaign, directed at Syrian residents, aims to improve refuse management by segregating rubbish at source and support direct recycling carried out by refugees themselves. Recyclable solid waste could generate EUR 165 000 euros a year.
The project also aims to improve access to employment and livelihoods by providing training and employment services for out-of-camp refugees and host communities. A dedicated vocational education centre has been erected in partnership with the local Chamber of Industry, and includes workshop spaces for construction, metal work and welding, wood work, air conditioning works, textiles and 3D printing. While the Syrian crisis is a human tragedy, the projects supported by the IcSP show that those displaced by war survive — and can thrive — if they are given the chance to do so.
For more information, read the full project fiche by clicking here.