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Turkey is an upper middle-income country with an economy ranked as the18th largest in the world. With international borders including Iraq and Syria, Turkey has had a greater influx of people fleeing conflict than any other country in the world. As of 2020, it is hosting around 3.9 million refugees the vast majority of whom are Syrians. Most refugees live alongside the host population, but there are still around 59,000 living in camps.

Registered Syrians have access to healthcare, education, social services and the labour market. However, while legislation allows Syrians to apply for work permits, it remains difficult for most refugees to find formal employment, forcing many to move within Turkey to areas where they can secure informal work. This kind of work is low-paid, and many refugees live in poor-quality housing and struggle to earn the minimum wage.

The World Food Programme (WFP) works in Turkey to assist refugees, both those living in camps and those in host communities. The Turkish people and institutions have so far been at the forefront of the emergency response, placing a significant burden on Turkey’s economic resources. The presence of refugees has created increased pressure on host communities, straining local markets and infrastructure. In addition to helping refugees through cash transfers that are spent in local businesses, WFP is helping the Turkish economy by purchasing the bulk of food commodities for the Syrian Regional Emergency Operation from Turkey.

In 2020 and beyond, WFP`s work in Turkey will focus more strongly on employability and livelihoods projects, including through the Kitchen of Hope culinary training project.

From late 2016 till early 2020, WFP co-implemented the largest EU-funded humanitarian programme ever, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN). The programme, which saw WFP working with the Turkish Red Crescent and the Government of Turkey, involved monthly cash assistance to over 1.7 million refugees.

79.5 million
3.9 million
refugees, mainly from Syria, live in Turkey
3.8 million
refugees live in local communities

What the World Food Programme is doing in Turkey

  • Helping refugees outside camps

    WFP is providing high-quality training and work experience for aspiring chefs – refugees and interested Turkish citizens - across Turkey. It is also supporting the Turkish Ministry of National Education with developing a state-of-the-art curriculum for culinary education in vocational schools. As of 26 March, culinary training lessons are being delivered live online via a dedicated YouTube channel due to Covid-19-related enforced school closures.
  • Helping Syrian refugees in camps

    WFP works with the Turkish Red Crescent to help provide food assistance to 59,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees still living in camps in Turkey. Starting in October 2012, the organizations rolled out an e-food card programme that adds a monthly balance to families’ debit cards so that they can buy food from local shops. WFP will shortly begin distributing hygiene kits to camp beneficiaries as part of Covid-19 measures.
  • Supporting Turkey's economy

    WFP`s Kitchen of Hope project will look to support Turkey`s vibrant gastrotourism industry by providing highest international standards training for Turkish nationals and refugees to become chefs, as well as supporting the development of a state-of-the-art curriculum for culinary education in vocational schools. WFP also has a history of large-scale commodity procurement in Turkey to support its global operations. More than US$ 2.01 billion worth of commodities have been procured in Turkey since 2011. Almost two-thirds of these commodities have been used for emergency food assistance in WFP’s operations in Iraq, Syria and the region, including surrounding countries hosting refugees.

Turkey news releases

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Partners and Donors

Achieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Turkey is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:



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