| Press release
Syria remains in crisis – the world, and donors, must not turn away now
With Syria now in its 11th year of unrelenting crisis, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement again calls on the international community to not forget the continuing humanitarian needs in the country. Right now, people in Syria need continued solidarity and committed support in order to cope with ongoing hostilities, economic woes, crippled infrastructure, and immense humanitarian needs in the country. At present at least 14.6 million people need assistance and are more dependent on aid than ever before.
Humanitarian actors, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, provide a lifeline in response to enormous needs. Despite security challenges and political blockages, we are finding ways to repair critical infrastructure and make sure people have access to basic services such as clean water, electricity, and functioning health services. To be able to meet these humanitarian challenges, we need continued financial support from the international community.
The importance of support to continue vitally needed humanitarian action cannot be overstated. While much of the world’s attention has turned towards other crises, such as in Ukraine, millions remain in need in Syria.
"The armed conflict in Ukraine is adding another layer of challenge to the situation in Syria," said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC’s regional director for Near and Middle East. "We’re worried about more food insecurity and ever-increasing prices. Even if the Ukraine conflict ended tomorrow the underlying impact of the climate crisis and the pressure this is putting on water resources and food production would still leave us with many issues to cope with.”
Our Movement has been responding to the needs of people in Syria since the first days of the conflict, with volunteers and staff providing vital aid to people in areas that others cannot reach. Without them, this humanitarian catastrophe would have been much worse. Each month, we assist millions of people inside Syria; for this life-saving work to continue, humanitarian workers must have sustained, safe, and non-politically motivated access to all people, families, and communities in need. We ask that States and all parties to the conflict ensure international humanitarian law is respected in their operations.
Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:
“We have seen with the Ukraine crisis how reducing restrictive measures on humanitarian activities has enabled our Movement to rapidly reach millions of people who need assistance, desperately. I call on donors, to apply the same flexibility to the Syrian context. Ideally, by extending the same humanitarian exemptions and licenses. This will create better conditions to minimize unnecessary suffering and bring dignity to affected people.”
Millions of Syrians living outside their homeland also continue to need support; neighbouring countries currently host the majority of people who have fled from violence in Syria. In Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are providing support to those who have fled, as well as the communities who host them. Countries in Europe have been implementing a wide range of activities to help Syrians integrate into their host communities, from offering psycho-social support programmes, to running reception centres, to facilitating reunification procedures with family members left behind.
For further information please contact:
ICRC: Jesus Serrano Redondo (Geneva), M +41 79 275 69 93, email:[email protected]
IFRC: Rana Sidani Cassou, M: +41 76 671 57 51 / +33 6 75 94 55 15, email:[email protected]
Cash and livelihoods: a winning combination for long-term sustainability and support to refugees
By Deniz Kacmaz, IFRC Turkey, Livelihood Officer
Turkey is hosting the largest refugee population in the world. More than 3.7 million Syrians have sought refuge as well as 330,000 under international protection and those seeking asylum, including Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, among others. With the conflict in Syria now entering its twelfth year with few signs of change, means that we are not just looking at a humanitarian emergency anymore, but on long-term resilience.
Since the refugee influx began in Turkey, the Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) has been taking a leading role in the response. As of April 2020, Turkish Red Crescent through its KIZILAYKART platform and IFRC run the largest humanitarian cash programme in the world, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), funded by the EU.
This programme has helped more than 1.5 million cover some of their most basic needs, covering their groceries, rent and utilities, medicine and their children's school supplies.
But humanitarian emergency cash assistance can only go so far. There is also a need to focus on longer-term resilience. This is why we are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities.
From humanitarian cash to longer-term resilience
We are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. This means being part of the labour market to meet their own needs and rebuild their life without depending on social assistance, including the ESSN.
We must focus on long-term solutions where refugees, supported by the ESSN, gain their power to stand on their feet and become self-reliant again.
I have been working at IFRC Turkey Delegation for almost two years helping identify gaps and find opportunities to empower people's socio-economic capacities. This approach helps ensure they are resilient in combating challenges in the future, including the devastating socio-economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and general obstacles around employment opportunities.
We have seen in many contexts when refugees are able to build their resilience and self-sufficiency, they can contribute even more meaningfully to the local economy. When they benefit, we all benefit, including host communities.
What are we doing to bring this long-term solution to the lives of refugees?
As of April 2021, we have launched referrals that link people receiving cash assistance through ESSN with a plethora of livelihood trainings and opportunities in Turkish Red Crescent community centres.
The 19 community centres across Turkey offer support to both refugee and host communities, including work permit support, vocational courses such as sewing; mask producing; various agricultural trainings; and Turkish language courses and skills trainings. These services are critical to breaking barriers in the local markets. The community centres connect skilled individuals to relevant job opportunities by coordinating with public institutions and other livelihood sector representatives.
The ESSN cash assistance provides support to refugees in the short term while giving them opportunities to learn new skills, which can lead to income generation in the long term.
How do we conduct referrals from the ESSN to livelihoods?
There are many sources where families are identified for referrals, some of the most common are:
Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) Service Centre
168 Kızılay Call Centre
Direct e-mail address to the TRC referral and outreach team
Identified potential individuals among ESSN protection cases
Field teams including monitoring and evaluation and referral and outreach teams who are regularly engaging with those benefitting from ESSN
In the first months of combining cash assistance with longer-term programmes, we have supported more than 1,000 refugees.
Some have been referred to employment supports including consultancy for employment and work permit support, while others are attending language courses, vocational trainings, and skills development courses through public institutions, NGOs, UN agencies and TRC’s community centres.
Though we have developed a robust livelihood referral system, collectively, we need to make stronger investments in social economic empowerment in the future.
While we continue to work on improving our programming and referral mechanisms, as IFRC, we are also reaching out to agencies, civil society, donors, and authorities tolook at how we can:
increase investment in socio-economic empowerment in Turkey,
mitigate barriers to employment for refugees, and
create greater synergies between humanitarian and development interventions.
It is this collective effort that will deliver the longer-term gains necessary for both refugee and local communities in Turkey to thrive.
The ESSN is the largest humanitarian cash assistance program in the world, and it is funded by the European Union. The ESSN has been implemented nationwide in Turkey in coordination and collaboration with the Turkish Red Crescent and International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies (IFRC). We reach more than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey through the ESSN, and we give cash assistance to the most vulnerable populations to make sure they meet their basic needs and live a dignified life.
The Turkish Red Crescent with its 19 community centres throughout Turkey supports millions of refugees as well as host communities. The Centres provide several courses, vocational trainings, social cohesion activities, health, psychosocial support, and protection services, among others.