The Activities of UN Türkiye in 2021

Kurum: UN
Alvaro Rodriguez
(on behalf of the UN Türkiye Team) UN Türkiye Resident Coordinator

Since 2014, Türkiye has hosted the largest population of persons under temporary and international protection in the world. In 2021, the number of Syrians under temporary protection passed 3.7 million, while Türkiye also hosts approximately 320,000 international protection applicants and status holders from other countries, principally Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) Türkiye chapter for 2021-2022 supports the Government’s efforts to address the needs of persons under temporary and international protection, host communities, and relevant institutions in line with Türkiye’s inclusive legal and policy framework. 

The 3RP, co-led by UNHCR and UNDP, has three strategic objectives: 1) Contribute to the protection of Syrians under temporary protection and persons under international protection; 2) Promote inclusion and access to services, including health, education, social services, as well as municipal services and local solutions; and 3) Promote harmonization, self-reliance and solutions. 

3RP programmes are implemented largely through public systems and services that have been stretched by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite the Government’s robust response to the pandemic, some of the adverse effects of COVID-19 are still prevalent, with high unemployment and poverty rates among Syrian refugees and the host community creating new and additional vulnerabilities and a dramatic increase in basic needs. These challenges have been exacerbated by disruptions to in-person services necessitated by public health measures, while many households have faced difficulties in accessing digital services. 

At-risk groups including women, children, older persons and people with special needs have been amongst the hardest hit by COVID-19. Impact assessments carried out in 2021 by 3RP partners reinforced the Government assessment of needs related to COVID-19 coordinated by the Office of the Vice-Presidency, highlighting the severe ongoing impacts, including socio- economic shocks, of the pandemic on vulnerable groups including refugees and migrants. Turkish public institutions supported by UN agencies and 3RP partners have continued to provide refugees access to basic and social services, with a gradual return to in-person appointments in the second half of 2021. 

Action Undertaken 

The 3RP partners in Türkiye embedded the COVID-19 response in all sector activities for 2021/22. Where feasible, the service and assistance delivery were adapted with a focus on identifying priority needs of women and men, girls and boys, communities and institutions impacted by the pandemic and developing new activities to respond to additional needs while adapted learning and home school support have been vital in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic. 

Priority interventions included information dissemination; support for the continuation of education through remote learning and blended programmes; phone and on-line support services to at-risk groups; and emergency cash assistance to help the most vulnerable households with basic needs following the loss of livelihoods. Considering the increased protection risks due to COVID-19, the need for timely and accessible information on support services became even more critical.

Disaggregated gender, age and child-sensitive data collection and targeted programmes are needed to ensure that assistance reaches the most vulnerable individuals and households. Ongoing health support to migrant health centres was provided including mental health and psychosocial activities. Immunisation coverage and access to COVID-19 treatment and vaccination were prioritized in close coordination with the Ministry of Health thanks to the Government’s inclusive policy towards refugees. 

Social protection plays a vital role in supporting disadvantaged groups while helping to promote social cohesion, as well as contributing to human and economic development. Therefore, the UN and its partners continue working with the Ministry of Family, and Social Services through multiple cash-based assistance modalities and the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education programme, 

Employability (e.g. through vocational and language training) and job retention were enhanced through cIose collaboration between the UN, the private sector, and national and local institutions. Enterprises received support in accessing the digitalised market, which helped them mitigating the negative economic impacts of COVID-19. 

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