Turkey + 3 more

UNICEF Turkey Humanitarian Situation Report #40, (Syrian Refugees Response): January -December 2020

Situation Report
Originally published



  • In Turkey, 768,839 Syrian and other refugee students have been enrolled in formal education services across the country, and over 7,000 out-of-school children enrolled in the Accelerated Learning Programme.

  • The coverage of the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE) Programme for Refugees continued growing, increasing from 562,016 children in December 2019 to 668,900 in December 2020. To support refugee families facing increased economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF also provided one-time CCTE top-up in November 2020, benefitting 518,794 children.

  • A total of 278,124 vulnerable refugees and Turkish children and their parents/caregivers benefited from a range of protection services, implemented through over 70 UNICEF-supported child and adolescent friendly spaces.

  • A total of 17,870 adolescents and young people were reached by UNICEF supported skills development, social cohesion and engagement activities.

Situation in Numbers

  • 1,810,465 children in need

  • 11,624,941 people in need

  • 3,643,769 # of registered Syrian refugees

Funding Overview and Partnerships

In 2020, UNICEF Turkey appealed for US $229.4 million to respond to the needs of over 4 million refugees and migrants, as well as vulnerable host community families, under the framework of the Regional Refugee and Response Plan (3RP). Of this, UNICEF received US $143.5 million in new funding in 2020, with generous contributions from key donors, including the European Union (EU) and the governments of Germany, Japan, Norway and the United States of America. Together with funding carried forward from 2019, this left the humanitarian response in 2020 with a 31 per cent funding gap. UNICEF also received some US $147 million in funding for use in 2021 and 2022, the majority of which is provided for the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (CCTE). UNICEF expresses its gratitude to all public and private donors for the contributions received to date. As, available funding remains heavily earmarked, additional flexible funding is urgently needed to ensure continued coverage of essential services for thousands of vulnerable children who remain at high risk of school drop-out, exploitation and abuse — particularly in light of the significant longer term secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugee children and families in Turkey.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

As of end 2020 Turkey remained home to over four million refugees and migrants—the largest such population in the world. This number includes more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees—of whom over 1.6 million are children—under temporary protection1 . A significant majority of Syrian refugees (98.4%) are residing in host communities, while less than 2% continue residing in the remaining seven temporary accommodation centres located in the South-east Turkey.

In addition, Turkey remains a leading transit country for registered and unregistered refugees and migrants on the move. By end 2020 a total of 18,431 people—primarily Afghans (36%) and Syrians (23.3%)—successfully crossed by sea and land from Turkey into the EU. An additional 122,302 people were rescued or apprehended by Turkish authorities as of end of December, four times lower than in 2019. This significantly downward trend compared to the last year is most likely due to the COVID-19 outbreak and associated movement restrictions in countries of origin and transit.

On 11 March, Turkey reported its first official case of COVID-19; by end December 2020 the Ministry of Health reported a total of 2,194,272 confirmed cases2 (including 10% healthcare professionals) and 20,642 deaths, with 2,078,629 people reported to have recovered3 .

Since the beginning of the outbreak more than 24 million COVID-19 tests have been performed, including tests carried out amongst refugees and migrants, with the average number of tests performed daily being over 100,000, since mid2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant strain on Turkey’s infrastructure and essential services, already overburdened after years of increased demand due to the Syrian refugee crisis. While to date the direct health impact of the pandemic in Turkey has been milder for children than for other age groups, the potential socio-economic impact— if not adequately addressed—could prove devastating and reverse gains thus far achieved in terms of access to and quality of services for children, including education, health and social protection.

The most vulnerable children in Turkey, particularly refugee and migrant children, continued to be at risk due to the interruption of essential services like education, child protection and social protection. The COVID-19 pandemic had a particularly marked effect on school enrolment, attendance and retention, making it harder for vulnerable children in Turkey, especially refugees and migrants, to continue their education. More than 400,000 school-aged refugee children are still out-of-school and do not have any access to education opportunities. Moreover, the effects of prolonged social distancing and confinement measures resulted in increased unemployment and fewer livelihood opportunities for vulnerable families, which will make it more difficult for them to meet their basic needs and could likely to lead to increased negative coping strategies, such as child labour and early marriage. There is also an increased risk of genderbased violence and violence against children, with higher levels of stress within households and many women and children potentially confined at home with their abusers for long periods of time.