Turkey is home to the largest number of refugees in the world. According to the UNHCR, as of September 6th, 2018, Turkey has 3,5555,464 registered Syrians under temporary protection – more than 1.5 million of whom are children – in addition to more than 330,000 asylum-seekers and refugees from other nationalities. 182,577 Syrians live in the 21 official camps located in provinces along the Syrian border, while the remaining reside in host communities across the country.
The Turkish Red Crescent Society (TRCS), as an auxiliary to the Turkish government and a member of the IFRC, is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey. Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, TRCS has been providing a first-line response in all the activities for the Syrian refugees and immediately reacted to the increasing influx of Syrians by activating its staff and volunteers and organizing dedicated structures to receive and protect people in need all around Turkey.
As part of TRCS’s response to the Syrian crisis, 15 TRCS Community Centers (herein referred to as Community Centers) in 14 cities have been established. This report presents the findings of a baseline survey and series of focus group discussions (FGDs) designed to help IFRC and TRCS better understand barriers and threats faced by service users, increase awareness of the needs and capacities of service users, and provide baseline data for the protection-related aspects of the ECHO-funded protection programme implemented by the Community Centers of the Turkish Red Crescent Community-Based Migration Programme.
In total, 345 interviews were conducted at five Community Centers (Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, Mardin and Mersin). Additionally, 14 focus group discussions (FGDs) with men, women and children aged 14 to 18 years of age were conducted. In line with the demographics of the service users of the Community Centers, 60.9% of the surveyed service users were female.
The majority of the surveyed beneficiaries were Syrian (96.2%), however a small number of Iraqi, Turkish, Palestinian, Egyptian, Algerian and Moroccan beneficiaries were also surveyed. The average age of the surveyed beneficiaries was 37 years of age. 6.2% of the surveyed beneficiaries were 60 years of age or older. While most of the beneficiaries were married and currently living with their spouse (72.2%), 18.3% were single and 3.5% were widowed. Approximately one third of the beneficiaries (34.2%) reported that they worked to support their families. Similarly, approximately one third of the beneficiaries (36.2%) reported that another member of their families worked. Across all Community Centers, 6.4% of beneficiaries reported that their families currently had no means of support.
Surveyed beneficiaries were largely positive about their experiences in their neighborhoods and their daily lives. Most beneficiaries rated their relationship with their neighbors as good (17.7%) or very good (73.6%), and reported that relations between Turkish and Syrian people in their neighborhoods were good (34.8%) or very good (46.1%). These responses were contrasted by beneficiaries in the beneficiary survey who reported that they had experienced violence (16.2%), or felt they had experienced discrimination based on their nationality (54.2%).
In focus group discussions, many beneficiaries spoke of the safety they felt in Turkey relative to the current conditions in Syria – referring to a greater sense of safety from physical violence. This may help explain the apparent contradiction of why participants reported feeling safe while also indicating that they experience violence and discrimination.