As of October 2017, Turkey hosts over 3,2 million Syrian refugees . Syrian refugees are mainly located in the Southeast Anatolia region bordering Syria, but as the crisis continued, the population has expanded to other regions as well. Turkey hosts the largest refugee population in the world and has demonstrated strong national ownership of the response. The Government of Turkey provides a rights-based legal framework through the Temporary Protection regulation, which offers access to education, health care, employment and social security to Syrians. According to the Government of Turkey, it spent 30 billion USD over the last 5 years on the response to the Syria crisis.
While the international community appreciates Turkey’s efforts, it has nevertheless failed so far to provide financial and technical assistance to the extent that should meet Turkey’s expectations and requirements. The EU and Turkey have agreed on an ambitious joint Action Plan and 3bn euro (plus an additional 3 bn euro) financing package to support Turkey’s impressive efforts, the impact of the crisis is increasingly and negatively felt on both Syrian and host communities in Turkey, leading to the Syrians’ search for new destinations, mostly in Europe through dangerous journeys. Unless the capacities of the Turkish government and society to create safe living areas for Syrians and host communities together is supported, the consequences will be significant, since the Turkish Government reached its limits of service delivery in all sectors. This situation is the driving force behind the increased focus on support of the international community on Turkey’s ability to host Syrians and promote regular safe and transit to third countries.
In response to mitigate the impacts of the Syrian refugee crises, the Government of Turkey has passed a series of laws and regulations mainly on the status of the Syrians residing in Turkey and their access to the education and health services and labor markets (i.e. Law on Temporary Protection). The fact that in January 2016 Turkey passed the Legislation on work permits for the individuals under temporary protection, which is applicable for the Syrian population, has become an indication of the significance attached to formal job opportunities for the Syrian community. A comprehensive needs assessment has been conducted by the Prime Ministry to identify the needs of the Syrians under temporary protection as well as the local authorities in the host communities which will be the basis of the allocation and disbursement of donor funding, mainly the financial support expedited from the EU. Said assessment addressed the following action areas: (i) basic public services (education and health); (ii) social development, protection and cohesion; (iii) livelihoods and employability and (iv) municipal services and urban infrastructures. The coordination of the crises response on the other hand had years-long testing period, where AFAD, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, has been mandated to act as the main coordinating government institution in Turkey.
The impacts of the crises on the host communities in Turkey have felt on three major areas:
i. Population, demography and local socio-cultural patterns: the number of Syrians who left their country due to the crisis exceeded five million, with more than half migrating to Turkey. The Southeast Anatolia Region of Turkey (aka SEA Region or GAP Region) came out to be the region which has been adversely affected socially and economically. More than half of those who migrated to Turkey live in the provinces of Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Kilis and Hatay and particularly these four provinces along the Syrian border took up the major burden, heavier than they could bear, in social, economic, environmental and spatial respects. As of August 2016, 2,744,915 Syrians  were registered in Turkey, out of whom 261,794 (9.5 %) were hosted in refugee camps, and 2,483,121 (90.5 %) were residing in host communities. This is an increase of over 240,000 people from the 2015 year-end registration figure. And the situation in Syria is still worsening, the violence has increased and there is no clear road map to foster peace in the country, leading to possibility of additional refugee influx to the provinces of Turkey along the Syrian border.
Syrian influx also changed the local socio-cultural patterns of the host communities in the sense that; although the Syrians and the host communities along the Syrian border have traditionally been sharing the same history for centuries and there are linguistic and cultural ties among each community. A recent profiling study conducted by the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) indicates that, around 50% of the Syrians residing in Turkey are below 18 age; approximately 700.000 Syrian children are at the school age; the household leads in around 22% of Syrian families living in urban areas are women.
Compared to their fellows in the host communities, women do not typically participate in the social and public life. Child labor and child marriages are common; almost every Syrian family has a member with physical and/or mental disabilities. Gender based violence is widespread.
ii. Urban infrastructure and municipal public services: the large increase in population since the emergence of the Syrian crisis, has been putting public institutions under considerable pressure to deliver basic municipal and public services, including inter alia urban waste management, energy, transportation, housing, and urban recreational areas. In a context of shrinking national resources allocated to local authorities for urban infrastructure and municipal public services, this is testing the limits of infrastructure and public services that were already fragile before the crisis. For example, Kilis Municipality has already begun utilizing those urban waste land fill facilities which were originally planned to be fully utilized only by 2023.
iii. Local labor market and local economic development: Turkey Chapter of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) highlights “livelihoods” as a key sector for Turkey’s resilience response. Based on the severe impact of the Syrian crises on the local labor markets and local economies as well as with a view to integrating the Syrians into the local labor markets, the livelihoods section of 3RP focuses on of the improvement of livelihoods opportunities and living conditions at the local level, including better and decent work conditions both for Syrians and host communities.
A number of assessments conducted by various actors’ highlight relatively low skills levels among Syrians, which significantly overlap with the skills of the host communities, mainly those in the SEA Region. This points to a possible risk of high-competition among two communities, particularly for low-skilled jobs and an increase of tensions between the two communities.
As a regional coordination and planning tool, a regional response to the Syria Refugee crises, the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) has been developed. Said Plan brings together the plans developed under the leadership of national authorities – namely Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – to ensure protection, humanitarian assistance and strengthen resilience.
The 3RP, now close to enter its fourth year, combines a humanitarian response focused on alleviating the suffering of the most vulnerable, addressing basic needs and preventing large numbers of refugees from falling deeper into poverty, with longer term interventions bolstering the resilience of refugee and host communities, while also capacitating national systems. The 3RP has mobilized the combined knowledge, efforts and resources of five states, more than 240 partner agencies, and an increasing number of donors.
Partners are not only responding to the most critical needs on a daily basis, but are also engaged in a dynamic process of constant adaptation, bringing the different facets of assistance to Syrian refugees and host communities into an increasingly coherent and effective framework linking humanitarian and resilience-building actions.
Overall Objective and Thematic Focus
The Side Event will focus on the Concept of Resilience in mitigating of and recovering from the impacts of the Syrian refugee crises on the host communities and national policy framework in Turkey through the humanitarian – development nexus lens. In particular, the overall objective of the Side Event is to showcase Governent of Turkey’s and UNDP Turkey’s experience in resilience based crises response with special emphasis on partnerships with national/local iplementing partners. The Side Event will primarily provide technical insights for (i) livelihoods and job creation; (ii) municipal service delivery and (iii) social inclusion. UNDP is co-leading the 3RP in Turkey (with UNHCR) in the domains of resilience and livelihoods. In line with the strategies of 3RP as well as the priorities of the national government and needs of the local communities, among other UN Agencies, UNDP implements a set of project and initiatives addressing mitigation of the social, economic, environmental and territorial impacts of the Syrian crises in the most impacted territories of Turkey.
The key expected outcome of the Side Event is to provide opportunities for exchange of expertise, experience and know-how in post-crises and post-conflict recovery processes through the resilience perspective, which would in turn yield in SSC and TC opportunities among the participating countries.
The Side Event will be organized by UNDP Turkey Country Office in strong collaboration with the Ministry of Development (MoD), Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and key national/local implementing partners of the UNDP.
Overview and Structure of the Side Event
The Side Event will be designed as a policy dialogue bringing together the policy makers and the practitioners in the field of post-conflict/post-crises revovery. The Side Event will be structured around the following discussions:
- The Concept of Resilienc and the Humanitarian-Development Nexus
- Overall policy framework and approach in addressing Syrian refugee crises
- The policy options in linking the crises with national development agenda
- Resilient regional and local development planning
- The role of private sector in mitigating the impacts of the crises (economic)
- The role of the local authorities in mitigating the impacts of the crises (economic, social, environmental and territorial)
- The integration of the Syrians into labor markets (employment schemes)
Moderator: Mr. Bülent Açıkgöz, Local Socio-Economic Development Cluster Lead, UNDP Turkey
Key Note Speaker: Mr. Emin Sadık Aydın, Director General, Ministry of Development (tbc)
National development policies and Syrian refugee crises: how to bridge linkages between longer term national development goals and the Syrian refugee crises?
Panelist: Mr. Nusret Mutlu, General Coordinator, GAP RDA
Integrated Approach for Resilience-based regional and local socio-economic development – The case of GAP Region
Panelist: Mr. Abdullah Aksoy, Head of Department Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality
The role of local authorities and municipalities in mitigating the social, economic, environmental and territorial impacts of Syrian refugee crises – The case of Gaziantep City
Panelist: Mr. Adnan Ünverdi, Vice President, Gaziantep Chamber of Industry
The role of private sector in generating sustainable livelihoods and job opportunities for the refugees
Panelist: Mr. Aşkın Tören, National Employment Agency (ISKUR)
Active Labor Market Policies and Measures for the Syrians under Temporary Protection – National strategies for labor market integration
Focal Point Contact Details
Programmatic Coordinator: Seher Alacacı, Assistant Resident Representative (Programme), firstname.lastname@example.org, 90 312 454 1167
Programmatic Focal Point: Bülent Açıkgöz, Local Socio-Economic Development Cluster Lead, email@example.com, 90 312 454 1128
 Official data Directorate General for Migration Management, Turkey, October 2017.
 the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM)