• Despite the significant efforts by the Government of Turkey (GoT) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including roll-out of national COVID-19 vaccination programme on 13th January 2021, the number of reported cases in Turkey significantly increased in the first quarter of 2021. As a result, strict confinement measures were re-introduced to curb the surge.
• As of March 2021, 774,257 Syrian children (379,432 girls; 394,825 boys) are enrolled in formal education (pre-primary to Grade 12) in Turkish Public Schools. In addition, 4,157 vulnerable children (2,073 girls; 2084 boys), including 2,793 out-ofschool children (1,377 girls; 1,416 boys), were enrolled in different UNICEFsupported programmes such as Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP), Turkish Language Classes (TLC) and Homework Support Programme (HSP).
• The Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE) Programme for Refugees remained operational and benefited 534, 233 (265,841 girls, 268,392 boys), of which 531,024 (264,240 girls, 266,783 boys benefitted from additional top-up payments as further support to respond to the particular socio-economic challenges and encourage continued learning.
• 77,316 vulnerable refugees and Turkish children and their parents/caregivers benefitted from a range of protection services offered by a network of 70 UNICEFsupported child and adolescent- friendly spaces and Social Service Centres across Turkey.
• 22,340 children (11,704 girls; 10,636 boys) and 2,925 caregivers (2,007 women; 918 men) benefited from Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) services and messaging, while 12,105 individuals (4,314 women; 623 men; 3,669 girls; 2,795 boys) were reached with Gender-Based Violence (GBV) -related risk mitigation, prevention and response interventions.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The situation for more than 3,6 million Syrian refugees, including 1,7 million children, as well as 320,000 refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities, of whom at least 140,000 are children1 , remains challenging and protracted.
Turkey also remains a leading transit country for registered and unregistered refugees and migrants on the move. By end of March 2021, nearly 2,000 people - primarily Afghans and Syrians - successfully crossed by sea and land from Turkey into the EU. More than 29,000 people were rescued or apprehended by Turkish authorities as of the end of March 2021, a downward trend compared to the last year, due to the COVID-19 outbreak and overall reduced number of people on the move.
In 2020 the Government of Turkey (GoT) had to rapidly mobilize a national health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had profound and far-reaching socio-economic consequences, beyond its immediate health impacts, on already vulnerable groups including refugees. The COVID-19 pandemic had a marked effect on school enrolment, attendance and retention, making it harder for children in Turkey to continue their education - affecting the learning of 19 million children in Turkey, from pre-primary to upper secondary age, including Syrian refugee children registered in the public education system.
More than 400,000 school-aged refugee children are still out-of-school and do not have any access to education opportunities. They are one of the most vulnerable groups in Turkey, facing multiple child protection risks, including psychosocial distress, child labour, child marriage and other forms of exploitation and abuse. The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, discontinuation of face-to-face learning, lack of interaction with peers and a reported increase in the level of domestic violence are likely to result in reversed learning gains and increased protection risks for vulnerable children, including refugees.