Demet Demirkır, a journalist from Haberturk.com, visited UNFPA’s Women and Girls Safe Space located in Eskişehir to talk to the center staff and the beneficiaries. The center provides primary health care and psychosocial services to refugee women and girls. The center is run by the UNFPA’s implementing partner Eskişehir Osmangazi University and financed by European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). The article was published on 30 July 2019 on Haberturk.com. To read the published article visit https://bit.ly/2YzDLDu
Following the decision taken for the Syrian citizens who are not registered in Istanbul to go to the provinces where they are registered, eyes were turned to the refugee problem.
Let’s talk about the numbers first. Since October 2011, with the wave of immigration to Turkey, it is estimated that approximately 3 million 634 thousand Syrians are living here. More than one million of this number is residing in Istanbul without the necessary permissions. Since July 12, 1,752 unregistered Syrians have been transferred to the provinces where they are allowed to reside outside of Istanbul.
Well, will the transfer of the Syrians, who have become a topic of discussion all over Turkey, to the provinces where they are registered, solve the problems in Istanbul?
The biggest problem of the Syrians who came to Istanbul looking for job opportunities, is the lack of vocational trainings. Will the dissemination of vocational courses for Syrian migrants solve the problem? What is being done for the training of Syrians? Do vocational courses help lifting the burden off of Istanbul? What kind of training is organized for the children, who are the future, and their mothers? The inclusion of immigrants in society and the provision of training by various NGOs to provide these immigrants with a profession, prevents many problems. Thus, these refugees learn a new profession thanks to the education they receive in many fields such as sewing, embroidery, repair, information technologies, patient and elderly care services, natural gas, heating, design, cookery, carpet-rug weaving, hairdressing, painting and mosaic.
THEY BOTH SOCIALIZE AND GAIN ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE
Here, Woman and Girls Safe Spaces, which is a social responsibility project by the Eskişehir Osmangazi University, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, UNFPA and with the financial support of ECHO, is a succesful example of the centers which aim to include the Syrians within the economy. Demet Demirkır from Habertürk examined this center, which touched upon the lives of thousands of women and girls. She talked about the experiences of these women who are preparing to begin a new phase of their lives and the gains they have made in these centers. The only dream of these women who are holding on to life with this center, is actually to go back to their homeland.
“WE WORK TO PREVENT THEM FROM BECOMING A LOST GENERATION “
Women and Girls Safe Spaces Project Coordinator and Assoc. Doctor Figen Caliskan, “Immigrants are our guests, they will not stay here forever. We work to prevent them from becoming a lost generation. Many people had to quit their education in their country. We, as a center, at least try to ensure that this process does not pass all empty.”
In the center, which mainly serves women and girls, various vocational trainings are given in cooperation with Public Education Centers. In fact there are even those who begin to make money with the certificate they get here.
MIGRANT WOMEN ARE BREATHING AT THIS CENTER
Associate Prof. Doctor Figen Çalışkan, “For this project, Eskişehir Osmangazi University allocated a building that was not being used. We have touched upon the lives of women here, which is beautiful. We’ve taken on a mission and are trying to execute it. In May 2017, we opened Women and Girls Safe Spaces. Syrian, Iraqi and Afghani women benefit from this center. This is a social responsibility project of Eskişehir Osmangazi University and it will continue as long as the United Nations supports us.
* The biggest problem for women to access help was the language barrier. Thanks to our translators in the center, this problem was eliminated. For example; When the person needs to go to the hospital, our interpreter friend accompanies them to the hospital if necessary or help them by phone.
* In agreement with the Public Education Center, we have been giving Turkish language courses in this center and were able to successfully eliminate the language barrier.
* We gave many trainings in order to empower women, we held awareness sessions, our teachers from the university came and provided trainings.
* We gave first aid training and fire training because the social conditions of these people are not good, they use tube gas in their homes.
* Security directorates and female police officers came to teach them their rights. They said they were standing behind them. Perhaps it was the first time they were given this much value, because many women come here at least to drink tea. ‘This is like therapy to us,’ they say.
They embraced this place so much, they reply “I would go to the center” when they are asked “What would you do if something bad happened?”.
We have created a very nice team here. Our translators, our psychologist, our nurse and doctor from the Provincial Health Directorate, our project assistants, our social services specialist, our health mediators, they all showed that they were working for these women. A bond between our female beneficiaries are being materilized here.”
“PEOPLE HAVE FACED BOTH THE DEFICIENCY OF GOVERNMENT AND UNEASE”
“These women are very valuable,” says Assoc. Doctor Çalışkan, “Every woman here has a different story, all seperately influencing us. There was a Syrian woman who affected me very much. She explained that she had crossed the border under very difficult circumstances and was very scared and said: “When I left Syria and arrived in Turkey, I embraced my children and bursted into tears. I said, ‘Thank God we are in Turkey.’ This still affects me a lot. God forbids anyone from not having a government. The people there face both the deficiency of government and unease.”
There was an Iraqi woman. Her daughters wanted to go to school but her husband wouldn’t let them. That woman learned how to approach her husband with the training she received here, and convinced her husband to send her children to school. I asked a woman, ‘Where are you from?’ she replied ‘the wounded Mosul’ That impressed me a lot, too. ”
Women benefiting from the Women and Girls Safe Spaces in Eskişehir have access to the following services:
* Sexual and Reproductive Health Services
* Services for Gender-based Violence
* Psycho-social Support
* Information on Legal Rights
* Courses and trainings (courses opened in cooperation with the Public Education Center: Turkish literacy courses, beauty and hair care-hairdresser training courses in the context of vocational training, after-school Turkish lessons for girls), activities for girls, chess, intelligence development and educational activities), wood lessons, painting lessons, English lesson, sharing circle, dance and sports course, knitting course, basic equine course, meditation and relaxation exercises, first aid training, fire training.
* Training and Awareness Sessions Activities Provided for Social Adaptation
HERE ARE THOSE WOMEN WHO SHARE THEIR STORIES WITH HABERTURK …
Photos by Demet Demirkır, Habertuk.com
“IF I HAD NOT EXPERIENCED THOSE THINGS, I WOULDN’T HAVE LEFT MY COUNTRY “
Aaya Husam Al-nageeb (23) – Iraq
I WISH I HAD NEVER LIVED IN IRAQ
She was a student in Iraq. When the war broke out, she took refuge in Turkey. She has been living in Turkey for 6 years now, and describes her experiences in the following sentence: “The war was the most difficult thing in my life, I went through very bad days. Missiles were passing over our house. My father was a merchant and we were constantly receiving threats. At first he ignored them because the threats were only verbal. At that time I was going to secondary school, and one day they kidnapped me after school. They beat me, hit me on my neck, my head and on my face, that’s why I got spots on my face. Now I have serious pain when the slightest thing occurs. They said to me, ‘If your father continues to ignore us, we will rape you, and dump you off at a corner.’ I kept on screaming, and I was lucky that people who saw it from the outside and the police officers saved me. Five days after this incident, we had to leave Iraq. I left my school and everything behind me, but after seeing and experiencing all that, now I don’t feel like I belong anywhere.
For a few times I was told, “Leave our country, you have corrupted this country, you’re overcrowding this country” and I wish I had something to do… I wouldn’t have left my country if I hadn’t gone through all that. Let them know that we’re here just to protect ourselves. We want to go back when Iraq gets better, but everything is getting worse day by day. We have no hope in Iraq. We want to live as human beings and be treated like human beings. In this sense, the role of the Women and Girls Safe Spaces is huge. ”
“My dream is to live freely and safely, and to finish my school…”
“I’M CRYING EVERY NIGHT BUT I GOT USED TO IT”
Hind Qasım Zaainel (55) Iraq
I wish I were a Turkish citizen
She has been living in Turkey for 1,5 years and says that the worst days of her life were spent in Iraq. She says “War means constantly thinking that your life can be over at any moment. We have seen death with our own eyes, we have both experienced it and we have seen it. My husband is Shiite, and I was from a Sunni sect. They have threatened us. One day, they detonated a bomb near our house, and a week later when we were in the car, they followed us, forcibly took my husband out of the car and killed him right in front of my eyes. They came to my house three days after they killed my husband. They said, “You are not one of us, and we will kill you if you do not leave your house.” I was imprisoned at home, with no food and water, I couldn’t take it after three days. My 5 children are in Iraq, they are not talking to me, they don’t want me. I cry every night, but I’m used to it because I have to live. This center plays a big role in my re-attachment to life.
“My dream is to become a tailor here…”
“GOD, PROTECT TURKEY FROM HARD TIMES”
Asian Karabash (34) Iraq
“I WISH THERE WAS NO WAR AND I COULD BE BACK IN MY HOMETOWN “
She has 4 children and have been living in Turkey for 4,5 years. “They say,” Go back to your hometown. ” But there’s nothing left there…
“War is the worst thing in the world … We have faced many difficulties, we have experienced hunger, time came when there was not even od(fire) in the hearth. When the ISIS came, we decided it was time to escape. We came to Syria as a family but we experienced many difficult days at the border. All our belongings were stolen in Syria. It was snowing, it was raining, we were cold on the roads. We had everything when we were in our country, but we had to sell it all so that we could escape. They asked us, ‘Why are you here?’ – Where can I go now? There’s no place to work back there, how can I work? My house was destroyed in Iraq, where do I stay?
God bless Turkey, it has opened the doors for us, but sometimes people despise us. They say, “Go back to your hometown. ” Nothing is left there… When I see those who treat us badly, I say: ‘May Allah grant mercy on your heart.
My husband has both asthma and heel spurs. He works only when he finds a job, otherwise he cannot.
Every time I pray, I say ”God, protect Turkey from hard times” We have seen the bad days, may God spare you from them ”
“I dream of Iraq to be restored one day…”
“I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED TO A GRADUATE DEGREE BUT I DID NOT HAVE THE CHANCE TO START”
Abeer Abdullah Al-Dawoodi (45) – Iraq
“WE HAD TO SELL ALL OUR BELONGINGS TO BE ABLE TO COME TO TURKEY”
She was a biology laboratorian back in her country, is married and has a child. She has been living in Turkey for 2,5 years and here’s what she says about her experience:
“War is a very bad thing. You live every minute like you could die any moment. Because of the war, the morality of the people has been corrupted. During that chaos, the organ mafia kidnapped my 4-year-old daughter (now 7 years old). We got her back for $ 30,000. I couldn’t bear that sadness, I got very sick, I got heart disease. I had an operation, when I took a taxi from the hospital, the taxi driver pointed a gun at me and said, ‘You are Sunni, you have to die.’ This was what my country has become. At that moment, I said “I am an officer at the security directorate.” and I survived. That’not all of it. The terrorists kidnapped my husband. We had to sell everything, our house, our golds, so that we could come to Turkey. We have nothing left. Life is very difficult here, the money we make is very little. My mother, who lives in Iraq, sometimes receives little money from my uncle and sends it to me, but thank God we get by. I was accepted to a graduate degree in Iraq, but I did not have the chance to start, because the war broke out. We came to Turkey and beautiful things are happening in this center. Thank you so much for accepting us. I just want to say to those who don’t accept immigrants: I want you to be a little more patient. You’ve seen malicious immigrants too, so you’re right. But the Turkish people in general are very good people. After all, there are bad people everywhere”.
“My dream is to finish my master’s degree one day … ”
Photos by Demet Demirkır, Habertuk.com
“WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE”
Umeyme El-Meymid (27) – Syria
“I wish I wasn’t schooled…” I WENT TO SCHOOL FOR 18 YEARS FROM PRIMARY SCHOOL TO THE UNIVERSITY, BUT IT HAS NO VALUE… “
She was an Arabic teacher. El-Meymid, married and mother of two children, describes her bad experiences with these words: “War is a very, very bad thing. There was no electricity, no water in our houses. Gangs were waiting in front of the houses to get a ransom, and we couldn’t leave the house. They asked my husband to join the army, but when he rejected, they cut his salary. We lived on the border in Syria, and the PKK was on the border. My husband and my father either had to join the PKK or they had to follow the order there. Both were very bad, so we decided to take refuge in Turkey. This was a very difficult decision for us at the beginning because we had to leave everyone behind. I went to Idlib with my son, and we waited 15 days at the border. There is a very different atmosphere at the border, everyone is trying to get money from people. 15 days later we came to Antakya, my husband had arrived before me, so we were reunited there.
“IMAGINE, THERE IS NOT EVEN BREAD THERE”
I feel lucky to come to Turkey because there are so many people in Syria who desperately wish for this… There is poverty there. Imagine there’s not even bread there. In Syria, we are suffering from the absence of something very ordinary here, but I would very much like to go back if the war would be over.
We lived in Denizli before coming to Eskişehir. My husband was working with a blacksmith, they agreed to give him 1.500 TL per month, but they did not give the money. People should know that; we are human beings and have the right to live. Human beings, whether Syrian, Afghan or Iranian are human beings. If there wasn’t a war in Syria, I wouldn’t have come here anyways. I have a reason that brought me here; and it’s name is war. It’s nothing else.
You welcomed us, the Syrians here, we needed to come here and you opened your doors to us. Thank you very much.
“My dream is to go back to Syria and teach again …”
“I WAS AFRAID TO STEP OUT OF THE DOOR EVEN TO COME TO TURKEY
Rana M. Elewe All-Salman (42) – Iraq
I WISH I COULD LIVE IN PEACE…
She was an instructor in Iraq, and now she has been in Turkey for over 8 months … She expresses her experiences as follows:
“There was no trust in my country, we were constantly in fear, we lived without knowing what will happen next. When I think about my memories, I realize that there is persecution in Iraq, there were slanders threatening my life. I was afraid to step out of the door even to come to Turkey. They threatened me with death. I’m very afraid to go back one day, even if everything goes back to normal in Iraq. When I came to Turkey I felt so safe here because I know there is police and there are people who will protect me if a bad intervention would happen. There are those who have experienced very bad things on the road of migration. I still feel lucky, but I have seen many evils there, too. I hope to continue my path here, to establish the future here. Very nice trainings are given in the center, I love spending time here.
If the person in front of you is oppressed and under persecution, they don’t do harm. For example, I was persecuted and nobody here treats me badly. ”
“My dream is for women to live comfortably…”
“THEY TOOK AWAY OUR RIGHT TO DREAM”
Inas Salih Mahdi (34) – Iraq
“I WISH I HAD MEDICINE THAT WILL NEVER END, BECAUSE MY CHILDREN DEPEND ON THIS MEDICINE TO SURVIVE”
She has been living in Turkey for 1,5 years. She has four sons, all of whom are sick … “I would love to return to my homeland even only just for a day in Iraq that we can sleep in comfort,” she says.
“War means explosions for me. It means unhappiness, fatigue, corrupt psychology that collapses on people … There is nothing left in Iraq, they killed all the good doctors and lawyers. Those who escaped have escaped, and those who didn’t escape were killed, they slaughtered everyone.
It was a very difficult decision for us to come to Turkey. It wasn’t easy to choose a country you didn’t know, to live in a place where you don’t even know the language, it was very, very difficult.
I have four sons, all four of them have a genetic condition called hemophilia. That was the main purpose of our coming to Turkey because the health system in Iraq is exhausted. They took away our right to dream. No women’s rights, no children’s rights, it’s all over. I always wanted to have a daughter, but if I had another child, she too would be born sick, so I don’t want it anymore. I’m so tired, I’ve dedicated myself to my kids. My children have a lot of dreams; they want to go to university but this disease affects them very much.
If Iraq gets better one day, I would love to return to my country, but the problem is not the international war in Iraq; There is a civil war, they pitted us against each other. If there is one day in Iraq that we can sleep in comfortably, if this problem can be solved, then I would very much like to return to my homeland.
Opposing to the prejudices I would like to say this; let them put themselves in our place. Let them think that they were the ones forced to go to a foreign country, then maybe they will understand us”
“My dream is to start a business here, to continue my life here and to see my sons realize their dreams …”
“MY HUSBAND CANNOT FIND A JOB SO I HAVE WORKED TO LEARN SEWING”
Ahlam Mahmmod Hamo Kloor (33) Iraq
“I WISH I REMAINED A GIRL FOREVER… I WAS MARRIED AT 16 AND MY HUSBAND WAS 45… “
Kloor, who is a housewife, has 3 children and have been living in Turkey for 3 years now. “I escaped for my children,” she says and continues:
“They put us through a very bad time. I witnessed the war for three years, the bombs were falling, my father died in their hands. I escaped from my country mostly for my children. We went to Syria as a family, but there was no order there either, there was war. After staying there for 1 month we came to Turkey. My husband is 64 years old and cannot find a job, so I tried to learn how to sew with the opportunities provided by the WGSS to earn money, but we have many difficulties.
God bless Turkey, you have opened your arms for us. ”
“My dream is to return home one day …”
“MY DREAM IS TO BECOME A TRANSLATOR “
Madineh Rahimi (14) – Afghanistan
“I WISH THE WORD ‘WISH’ DID NOT EXIST”
Madineh says that what she wants most is education and being able to stand on her own feet.
“We lived in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, then we moved to Kunduz, but it was worse. When I was 12 a commander wanted to marry me, I don’t exactly know his age, but he was too old. I didn’t want to get married. They began to threaten us, threatening my father, they said “If you don’t give her to me, I’ll take her forcefully’. I was so scared, I got sick because of the stress. We had to go to Iran. From there, we came to Turkey. I went to the hospital because of continuous faintings. They prescribed me a syrup, I used it, but I did not get any better. I never went to the hospital again. I also have childhood rheumatism, therefore I have constant pain. I truly want to be completely healed.
I learned Turkish at home. I downloaded lessons online, and my brother was teaching me what he learned outside. Then I came to the WGSS and after the speeches here, I decided to go back to school. I’m starting high school this year. We girls have so many dreams … For example, my dream is to be an translator, to have a good life. I dropped out of school, but decided to go back to school thanks to the WGSS. My father can’t find a job, can’t work, they say to him, ‘You don’t speak Turkish, we can’t hire you.’ My father said ‘Let me go to Afghanistan and work there’ but I never wanted him to go. He couldn’t go against me, so he gave up… ”
“I have lots of dreams… I want to finish my school, I want a good life… ”
“WE GO TO THE MARKET BUT WE CAN’T GET ANYTHING WE WANT. I FEEL INSIGNIFICANT”
Samira Mahmadi (17) – Afghanistan
“I HAVE A LOT OF ‘IF ONLY’S…
I WISH MY FATHER AND MOTHER HAD NOT BEEN ILL… I WISH OUR LIVES HAD BEEN BETTER… I WISH MY DREAMS WOULD COME TRUE…”
Mahmadi, who’s a 10th grade student here in Turkey, says they have been through very difficult days. She describes both what she has experienced and what she has missed out on:
We went to Iran from Afghanistan because of the war. My mother got very sick, and she had a surgery. She had to have surgery once again, and my father also got sick at the time, but we had no money. We have experienced hard times. We had to come to Turkey.
I’m studying at the 10th grade now. We’re happy to be here, but we’re having a lot of difficulties. I sometimes want to buy something, but my parents can’t afford it, and my mother apologizes to me. We are having problems in hospitals because we are foreigners. We go to the market, but we can’t get anything we want. I feel insignificant, I want things, but I can’t have them.
I can go to school now only because my school is an Islamic divinity studies high school. I want to go to college but my mother says; ‘There are men there.’ I worry a lot, what if they don’t send me to college? Because I want to study and become a doctor. I think I can get help from the counselors at the WGSS to convince my family. ”
“My dream is to become a doctor one day…”
“THEY SAID ‘GO BACK’!” “I KNEELED BEFORE THE POLICE”
Rana Saded (27) – Afghanistan
She has been living in Turkey for 2,5 years. She says they had to walk for days to come to Turkey and continues:
“I was living in Afghanistan. 2.5 years ago I came to Turkey. I am very happy here, sometimes we face prejudices but I still love Turkey. There are days when we only have tea and bread to eat, but I am still happy. They help us, my children are back to school. What more could I ask for… thank you very much. We walked for hours to come to Turkey. My 11-year-old son crossed the border and when I arrived at the gate, they thought I was Iranian and said to me ‘Go back’. At that moment I kneeled before the police and said ‘Brother, I cannot return, I walked for a whole month to come here. Smugglers took my son. How can I go back now?’ – I finally crossed the border. It was very difficult, we were left hungry, we stayed on the roads, we were cold. Thank God we came to Kilis and then to Eskisehir. ”
“BOTH MY HUSBAND AND MY SON WERE MATRYED IN THE WAR
Khatun Abdulrahman Mustafa Hamo (49) – Iraq
Hamo, said that they had to pay a large price to come to Turkey:
“We were farmers, and both my son and my husband were martyred in the war. We had to flee to Syria with my son. I stayed for 6 months in Syria, but when the war broke there too, we had to come to Turkey. We paid a lot of money to come here, we paid a lot of money to the agents that brought us here. We had nothing left when we got here. We came here only with our clothes. It doesn’t matter even if we just eat onions here. One day on the tram someone started shouting ‘Go to your country’, I couldn’t stand the humiliation, I got off at another stop even though it wasn’t my stop yet. It was the first time I’ve seen this treatment in three years, and it was like they wanted to harm me physically. ”
“WE CAME HERE ONLY THE CLOTHES WE HAD PUT ON, BECAUSE WE HAD NO CHOICE”
Nabaa Mohsin (37) – Irak
Accountant, has three children. “Everything there was looted, we had nothing left,” She says:
“I do not fear death now when I go somewhere, because we’re safe here. In Iraq, our financial situation was good but we did not have security at all. You’re leaving the house, but you’re not sure if you’ll be able to return. Even in schools there were explosions, children were dying while at school. We had to come to Turkey. The Red Crescent helped us for 3 months but then they stopped. They say my son can work because he is 18, but my son had an accident in Iraq, and so one of his legs is shorter than the other. Everything there was looted, we had nothing left.
The rent for the house we live in actually costs 400 liras, but they make us pay 650 liras. In the building where I lived before, all my neighbors were happy with us, only one person never accepted us. We only had to move out of there because of that one person. Nobody wants to leave their family and relatives behind and emigrate. Most of them actually have professions, but they are treated as nothing here. We came only with the clothes we were wearing, we could not even take extra clothes. Nobody wants to live like this, we’re here because we have no choice. ”
“THE PUPOSE IS TO CREATE A SAFE SPACE FOR THOSE WHO LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND AND STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN”
UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund Humanitarian Aid Program Regional Manager Duygu Arig:
“The United Nations Population Fund is a reproductive health and rights agency under the umbrella of the United Nations. Since 2011, we have been carrying out the humanitarian aid program within the framework of our own fields of work intensively with the Syrian crisis.
As the United Nations Population Fund, we have been working with Eskişehir Osmangazi University since 2016. In the first few years, Women and Girls Safe Spaces were the units that started to serve for the reproductive health of women and to combat with gender based violence.
These centers are located within the Migrant Health Centers of the Ministry of Health in other provinces, and provide primary health care services to the immigrant population. But here, it is different. While the other centers are under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health, here in Eskişehir, this center provides services in a place provided by the Eskişehir Osmangazi University, with the support of the Ministry of Health.
Our main fields of activity are; reproductive health, combating violence against women, psycho-social support and empowerment of the women using our centers. Currently, this center focuses mainly on women and girls. In the future, we will expand the area a little more, and create a space that focuses on the youth, enabling both young men and women to benefit from it.
Although reproductive health is one of our main fields of study, mother-women-child health, empowerment of young people, realizing their potential, combating violence against women, prevention of gender-based violence and ensuring equality between women and men are among our main subjects.
“WE ARE WORKING TO PROVIDE THE SERVICES THAT HAVE BEEN IGNORED”
Currently we have four youth centers, as well as 30 other centers. Women and Girls Safe Space in Eskişehir is one of the 25 centers supported by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). In addition, we work with social service centers where we support service provision, so that we can directly reach out and assist the refugee population in Turkey.
There are 3.6 million registered people under temporary protection in Turkey. There are around 115,000 people under international protection, but we know that we are living with approximately 4 million refugees. For this reason, we try to provide services that have been ignored. Child marriages, domestic violence, sexual violence and abuse are the most common problems faced both by girls and women of this group. It is very important for us to combat with those problems because they are not easy to touch upon and easy to end, since they require great trust and long-term work.
Our goal is to create a place where people who leave everything behind without thinking for a moment and come into an unknown, can hold onto. We aim to create opportunities for them to rebuild their lives in a place they are not familiar to, and to inform and empower them while doing so. ”
“IT IS OUR HUMANITARIAN RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP THE ONES WHO ARE MOST IN NEED”
European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) Turkey Office Technical Expert Reza Kasraei said, “We aim to save lives, to prevent human suffering, to protect the integrity and human dignity of the population affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.” about ECHO’s support to the refugees.
European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations (ECHO) is very important for immigrants. Can you explain what ECHO is? And what does ECHO generally do?
Whenever there is a humanitarian crisis, a natural disaster or conflict, the EU can provide rapid assistance to those in need. This is always done impartially and is given to the most vulnerable. Our humanitarian support is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all over the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and reduce human suffering, and protect the integrity and dignity of the population affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.We are helping millions of conflict and disaster victims every year, including Turkey where we are supporting millions of refugees. Our headquarters is in Brussels and we have a global field office network. The EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable on the basis of humanitarian needs.
Many countries had bad experiences like war, and many people had to flee from their hometown and suddenly became refugees. They have nothing left and are experiencing economic difficulties. So, how does ECHO touch their lives?
People who are forced to leave their homes because of conflict and disaster can be people like any of us, as history shows.
For example; Europeans were refugees only generations ago. It is our humanitarian responsibility to help those who need it most, and that’s exactly what we do. By the end of 2018, 70.8 million people needed protection and assistance as a result of forced displacement. As a result, the EU gave about 75 per cent (more than 1.2 billion euros) of the humanitarian budget to projects aimed at addressing the needs of forcibly displaced and local communities in about 40 countries.
Our source of humanitarian aid funds; international NGOs and UN agencies specialized in different areas and projects that help to provide access to basic services such as housing, protection, food and health services, nutrition assistance, safe water, cleaning and health.
This area’s largest network team is centered in Turkey, which hosts the highest number of refugees at the moment. In order to share responsibility for the assistance and protection of these refugees, the EU finances humanitarian aid projects for protection, education, health and basic needs.
The EU’s largest ever humanitarian project is being executed in Turkey at the moment. It is a social assistance program that enables more than 1.6 million vulnerable refugees to meet their most urgent basic needs. With nearly 1 billion euros in funding from the implementing partner EU, the World Food Program (WFP) – in collaboration with the Turkish Red Crescent and Turkish government agencies – is paying monthly cash to refugee families, which is what they need most.
“THE PROJECT PROUDLY SUPPORTED OVER 511 THOUSAND REFUGEE CHILDREN WHO CONTINUED TO SCHOOL”
Since the beginning of 2017, we have been supporting the Cash Transfer for Education project, which was built on the Red Crescent card, jointly with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, with an EU contribution of € 84 million. We provide cash transfers every two months to vulnerable refugee families whose children regularly attend school. The project also includes a component to ensure children’s continuation to school, by reaching refugee families whose children have either dropped out of school or are at risk of dropping out. So far, the project has proudly supported over 511,000 refugee children who regularly attend school. We help children and invest in all future.
Our partnership with UNFPA is solid. Our history goes back more than three years in Turkey. At the Migrant Health Centers, we work together with the Ministry of Health to respond to the reproductive health and psycho-social needs of refugee women and girls.
We are currently supporting 25 safe spaces for women and girls, supported by the EU across the country today. We choose this among the most vulnerable of refugee women. We attach great importance to this project as it enables guidance to sexual and reproductive health, psycho-social support and other service providers, and as it encourages refugee women to learn their rights and responsibilities in Turkey. These are complementary services to primary health care provided by the Ministry of Health through Migrant Health Centers and are requested by refugees. The aim is to fully integrate and operate these services with EU funds by the Ministry of Health in the coming months.
This article was published on Haberturk.com on 30 July 2019 which was penned by the journalist Demet Demirkır. To see the published online version of the article (Turkish), please visit https://bit.ly/2YzDLDu