Turkey is an upper middle-income country with an economy ranked as the 18th 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 nearly 4 million refugees, the vast majority of whom are Syrians. Most refugees live alongside the host population, but there are still over 60,000 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 to areas within the country where they can secure informal work.
Harnessing its experience with the Government and partners in the humanitarian-development nexus, the World Food Programme (WFP) continues to help refugees meet their basic needs, and to facilitate labour-market access for vulnerable populations. In addition to helping refugees through cash transfers that also boost local businesses, WFP is helping the country’s economy by buying the bulk of food commodities for the Syrian Regional Emergency Operation from Turkey.
In addition, WFP’s work in Turkey is focusing more strongly on employment and livelihoods projects, including through the “Kitchen of Hope” culinary training project and a collaboration with partners providing food and employment through soup kitchens.
Following the emergence of coronavirus, WFP mobilized to support the increased need for household hygiene items, distributing hygiene kits to all residents within camps. In line with the Turkish Government’s cash transfers to vulnerable Turkish families, WFP also provided refugees in camps with a one-off top-up of TRY 1,000 (US$ 150) per household, to mitigate the adverse socioeconomic effects resulting from precautionary measures which constricted the ability of refugees to earn additional money.
As of April 2020, WFP handed over the Emergency Social Safety Net programme, the world’s largest humanitarian multi-purpose cash programme, to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Crescent Societies.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Turkey
WFP is supporting over 54,000 refugees in six camps in Turkey's southeast, through a monthly e-voucher payment of TRY 100 (US$ 15) per person per month. WFP has delivered 40,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to health workers providing services to in-camp residents, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The “Kitchen of Hope” project aims to increase the self-reliance of unemployed Turkish nationals and Syrians under temporary protection, across nine provinces. It equips them with culinary skills that will improve their employment prospects. The participants are trained in cooperation with the Turkish Ministry of National Education, and assisted with on-the-job training in hotels, cafes and restaurants in coordination with the Turkish National Employment Agency and private sector.
Food assistance and livelihoods
WFP is working with seven local municipalities, GIZ PEP-Promotion of Economic Prospects Programme and the International Organization for Migration, to support municipalities in providing hot meals to vulnerable families. WFP helps provide soup kitchens with ingredients, equipment and packaging machines. The initiative also creates jobs in soup kitchens, in areas including storekeeping, food preparation, dishwashing and delivery services. Approximately 11,500 hot meals are cooked and delivered to vulnerable refugees and Turkish families every day in seven provinces.