Operation: Opération: Turkey



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Key Figures

2017 year-end results
100,010 households (479,900 individuals) received cash for winter support, including 44,220 households in camps
14,150 households received cash assistance for basic needs, livelihoods, protection and education needs
5,800 high-school graduates were supported to attend higher education preparation programmes
875 refugees received employment through linkages with private sector, facilitated by UNHCR
2018 planning figures
412,000 412,000 people of concern will be provided with individual/family material ranging from cash to CRIs and psychosocial support
50,000 people of concern will receive skills training for livelihood purposes
2,800 people of concern will be enrolled in UNHCR-supported tertiary education programmes

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2017 3,789,320
2016 3,116,156
2015 2,754,540


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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018

Operational context

In 2017, UNHCR’s operation in Turkey continued to be heavily impacted by the on-going conflicts in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria). Furthermore, the domestic security situation in Turkey remained challenging and the State of Emergency in Turkey was extended throughout the year. However, Turkey continued to host the world’s largest number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, with 3.4 million Syrians and 346,800 refugees and asylum-seekers of various nationalities.
The conflict in Syria continued with limited prospects for political settlement and remained the cause for the largest displacement and refugee crisis in the world. With the deterioration of the security situation in Northern Syria, internal displacement significantly increased, with many being displaced multiple times. Despite the difficult situation and restrictions in access to territory, people in need continued to receive humanitarian assistance and protection support by UNHCR and its partners operating within the framework of the humanitarian response plan for Syria, through the UN cross-border operations from Turkey. 
The Syria refugee response in Turkey continued to be regionally aligned and coordinated within the framework of the UNHCR and UNDP co-lead Regional Refugee and Resilience Response Plan (3RP), which encompasses response plans for Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey in a regionally coherent and country-led platform.
As the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq continued to force people to flee, Turkey continued to witness an increase in the number of Afghans and Iraqis seeking international protection in 2017.

Population trends

According to the Directorate General for Migration Management (DGMM), as of December 2017, some 3.4 million Syrian refugees were registered in Turkey. This represents a 21 per cent increase compared to 2016. By the end of 2017, the total Syrian refugee population has more than doubled since 2014, when Turkey became the largest host country of refugees in the world. This increase can be explained partly with the clearing of the registration backlog.
Some 126,500 applicants of nationalities other than Syrian registered with UNHCR in 2017, translating to a 64 per cent increase compared to 2016. There was a 96 per cent increase of registrations by Afghans and a 57 per cent increase of Iraqis. The registration of Iranians dropped by 22 per cent. The increase in registrations can partly be explained by DGMM having recently expanded the list of possible ‘satellite cities’ to which those covered under the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP) can be referred.

Key achievements

  • To enable self-reliance of refugees and facilitate their integration into the labour market, UNHCR worked closely with Government and partners. Over 13,700 individuals received skills building, vocational and/or Turkish language training. A total of 875 refugees received employment with UNHCR facilitating linkages with private sector and supporting their path to employment. 1,273 beneficiaries received entrepreneurship and business training and 89 beneficiaries were helped to legalise their businesses. The cooperation with the Turkish Employment Agency (ISKUR) was further expanded through training of 272 staff and support to run an information campaign on refugee employment rights.
  • UNHCR’s education assistance was revised to focus on supporting access to higher education, benefitting 325 refugee students. The some 8,030 children enrolled in primary or secondary schools who received education grants from UNHCR, were transitioned to the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE) programme by September 2017. 

Unmet needs

In 2017, to the extent possible, UNHCR continued to harmonize its approach towards all refugee populations, pursuing a ‘One Refugee’ policy, which aims at providing a fair level of assistance and protection to population groups, irrespective of nationality. This approach was partly restricted by funding being earmarked to specific groups of refugees and asylum–seekers, as well as funding limitations in general. 
Due to limited funding, UNHCR’s regular cash assistance covered less than 1 per cent of refugees and asylum-seekers from other countries than Syria. While partners have been advised to provide services to all people of concern, interpreters are often only available for Arabic speakers. 


Working environment

Turkey remains the largest host country of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate in the world. For planning purposes, UNHCR estimates there will be 2.75 million Syrians and 350,000 non-Syrian refugees in Turkey by the beginning of 2017.

The Government continues to lead the refugee response, and Turkey has established a national asylum framework through the Law on Foreigners and International Protection and the Temporary Protection Regulation. In February 2016, Turkey regulated the issuing of work permits for beneficiaries of temporary protection. 

Key priorities

UNHCR’s overall strategy is to support the Government in developing and implementing its national refugee response strategy, as well as coordinating the response of various humanitarian actors. 

As Turkey transitions from a refugee emergency to a protracted situation, UNHCR will increase its support to improve the living conditions of all people of concern. As over 90 per cent of refugees live outside camps, UNHCR will continue to focus on supporting the most vulnerable urban refugees with a three-pillar strategy of education, livelihoods and access to social welfare.