Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP), financed by European Union (EU) and implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was officially launched in Cer Modern Ankara with a high-level event. The two-year Project with 50-million-euro budget focuses on promoting jobs creation, strengthening municipal services and delivering Turkish language trainings in 11 provinces of Turkey.
The event gathered over 190 participants from various United Nations (UN) agencies, representatives of UNDP, high-level members from government and public bodies, implementing partners of the Project, universities, non-governmental organizations, national and international organizations active in the field of humanitarian aid and development, business community, private sector and media representatives. The main theme of the opening ceremony was “Helping Together, Elevating Hopes…”, a motto stemming from one of the translations of Arabic word, “MADAD”, referring to EU Trust Fund’s (EUTF) former name, a core branding of the Project conveying the key message that “EU and UNDP are helping together to people, communities and institutions…”
Building a sustainable future for Syrian refugees, their host communities, institutions and individuals
The Project brings together UNDP’s expertise in sustainable development and EU’s financial support, and aims to share Turkey’s burden, as the country currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world. Project activities target both Syrian refugees and host community members and aims to support them to cope with and recover from the crisis, and aspires to build a sustainable future for individuals, communities and institutions.
Through a resilience-based, local and sustainable development perspective, Project proposes longer-term, comprehensive and structural solutions to the challenges due to the Syria crisis. Centered on resilience, economic integration, social cohesion, local capacity enhancement and regional development, the Project will benefit 2,000 Syrians and host community members for employment opportunities and livelihoods, 52,000 Syrians for Turkish language training, and more than 307,000 Syrians and host community members for improved municipal services.
No one Choses to be a refugee
Opening speeches at the ceremony were made by Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Claudio Tomasi, UNDP Turkey Country Director and Ambassador Christian Berger, Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey. Delivering the opening remarks in the event, Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano stated that the challenges faced by today’s world could only be responded through solidarity, cooperation and common will and underlined that being a refugee is not a choice, and no one choses to be a refugee. “Being a refugee does not mean being abandoned by the entire world. Our objective is to ensure that ‘No one will be left behind’. Hence it is our duty to provide refugees with a family environment, to help them recover from their wounds” Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano stressed that Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP) aims to help and support Syrian refugees and Turkey, who shows outstanding generosity. Emphasizing that the world’s refugee crisis needs both humanitarian in short term, and longer-term development-based response, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said that 65 million people worldwide are displaced by various reasons and developing countries host around 90 per cent of them.
Underlining that the response to the refugee crisis would a test for humanity’s collective conscience, Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano asked “If a country today is affected by an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees or, by even ten or twenty thousand, what should the international community do to assist this country? How it will make a difference? What tangible difference will the international solidarity make in the lives of refugees or the communities that host them? These are the questions that the global community is asking…”
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another…”
UNDP Turkey Country Director, Mr. Claudio Tomasi said that the Project aims at sharing the burden of Turkey through UNDP’s more than 50 years of expertise in the area of development. Mr. Tomasi stated that Turkey has been faced with an unprecedented migration challenge which no country could ever be prepared for enough and added that over the years, Turkey put in place a number of policies, coordinated among many different actors, and provided a multifaceted response to a complex question, which is the greatest humanitarian tragedy in modern history. Saying that Government of Turkey and Turkish people have shown tremendous generosity and hospitality to Syrian refugees, since the beginning of the crisis, UNDP Turkey Country Director underlined that many voices have praised Ankara not only for its resilience facing such an influx, but also for the open-door policy, the quality of camps, and the positive steps taken toward assisting Syrians in need.
UNDP Country Director also quoted from Charles Dickens; “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another”. He stressed that the UNDP and EU are working together to lighten the burden of Turkey, Syrian refugees and their host communities to build a new future for all. Emphasizing that the objective of Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP) is to suggest a resilience-based and long-term approach, Mr. Tomasi pointed out that there is a direct link between development, humanitarian response, rehabilitation, reconstruction, resilience and stability and added: “The most effective global response to future crises in our world, would most likely to be through integrating humanitarian aid and development goals, in a way that one complements the other.”
Refugees are not a problem, but also an important opportunity for their contribution to society
Delivering the opening speech at the official inauguration of the Project, that the European Union (EU) is supporting with 50 million euros, Ambassador Christian Berger, Head of EU Delegation to Turkey the priority is to ensure self-sufficiency and resilience of Syrian refugees and their host communities in the long run. Ambassador Berger noted that with right framework and right policies, we could create a favourable environment for refugees where they could be part of the society and contribute. “Refugees are not a problem, they are also an important opportunity with their contributions to their host country and communities” said Ambassador Berger, underlining the importance of accessing to livelihood opportunities and employability. Ambassador also added that the EU will continue to support Turkey in the response to this massive humanitarian crisis.
In his speech, Mr. Halil H. Afşarata, Chief Coordinator of the FRIT Funds at the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, emphasized the importance of the ongoing cooperation with UNDP, and its experience and expertise in development to be very important in the response. Mr. Afşarata underlined that to fully responnd to longer-term and substantial needs due to Syria Crisis, close cooperation among partners is highly crucial and partnerships with organizations with high operational capability in the field is highly appreciated.
Three Deputy Ministers from the implementing partners of the project; Ministry of Industry and Technology, and Ministry of National Education also attended the inauguration ceremony. Deputy Ministers of Industry and Technology, Çetin Ali Dönmez and Mehmet Fatih Kacır, Deputy Minister of National Education Reha Denemeç, all underlined the importance and value of the activities under three components of the Project in their speeches. Emphasizing the longer-term positive impact of the Project and development-based approach, Deputy Ministers expressed their appreciation for UNDP’s support, expertise and contribution in the response to Syria Crisis. Deputy Minister of National Education Reha Denemeç noted that the response to refugees in need should entail sustainable development goals, and should respond in the areas such as education, language training, health, local and municipal services, livelihood opportunities. “Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis in that sense, is very important, since the Project aims to achieve social and economic integration and development goals, through providing Turkish language skills, new livelihood and job opportunities for refugees and strengthening municipal services, under its three components.” said Deputy Minister Denemeç.
In the second part of the program, the experiences of Syrian individuals who had benefited from the educational support within the scope of various UNDP projects were shared. Under UNDP’s Syria Crisis Response and Resilience Programme, Mahmoud Almhamad who graduated from Re:Coded bootcamp in last march after completing Udacity Androdid Basic Nanodegree and a client project with Keep Me On Trach, a start-up in Australia, shared his story and experience. Today, Almhamad, is working on starting up the first digital agency in Şanlıurfa and employing other Re:Coded alumni to work for clients worldwide. Some of Mahmoud’s projects include a meditation app for a client in the UK and a language learning app for an international non-profit organization.
And also, Ela Moustapha, who is one of the trainees of the medical secretaryship and language courses of the Syria Crisis Response and Resilience Programme, shared her story with the participants. She then worked as the sole Arabic translator of Harran University Hospital. She is now working in Migrants Health Center in Şanlıurfa.
The programme of the opening ceremony followed suit with an interactive presentation session of the Project, with UNDP Syria Crisis Response and Resilience Programme Portfolio Manager Burçe Dündar and the Project Managers Ezgi Arslan, Sertaç Turhal and Alper Kemal Doğan, who are the main responsible of Turkey Resilience Project in Response to Syria Crisis, giving details to participants on Project’s scope, objectives, actions under three components. Dynamic presentation session covered issues around the Project with questions and answers, under the premise “How do we work together, elevate hopes; for people, communities and institutions…?”
Following presentation session, Responsible Party Agreement Protocol was signed between UNDP and the Turkish Red Crescent, under Turkey Resilience Project in Response to Syria Crisis, Turkish language training component.
The official inauguration ceremony continued with the songs of the Syrian – Turkish – American folk music band; “Country for Syria”, and exhibitions by Gölcük Municipality and Gölcük Photography and Cinema Club, together with a contemporary art collection of the Syrian artists living in Turkey, with Ankara based “Joon Arts”. While participants of the event witnessed the exhibitions showcasing the life stories of the Syrian refugees, watching videos, they also enjoyed local tunes with common cultural vibes.