The Syrian Crisis has expelled millions of people from their homes, injured thousands, and devastated generations. Approximately, six million Syrians refugees have fled the war to neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon. Turkey is hosting the largest number with nearly four million refugees and asylum seekers registered in the country, with many more still undocumented.
Initially, Syrians settled in the provinces bordering Syria, with many living in temporary camps set up by AFAD (the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency). Over 3.6 million Syrians are registered under temporary protection, which allows them to access health and education services, and sometimes monetary aid distributed by the Turkish Red Crescent. However, most are unable to attain work-permits that would allow them to work legally in Turkey. As their stay in Turkey has continued, many Syrians have migrated to cities seeking jobs and living in low-income areas where rent is low.
Like Mohammed, many Syrians have moved from south-eastern Turkey to western coastal areas of the country in search of job opportunities and better living conditions. As many Syrian refugees have been employed as seasonal workers in the rural districts of western provinces in Turkey, they are among the most vulnerable groups because of their isolation, the lack of services and access for NGOs providing healthcare.
Dünya Doktorları Derneği (DDD) met Mohammed and his family in a rural area located in Turkey’s Izmir, one of the western provinces of the country. With support from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (DG ECHO), DDD has been providing primary health care (PHC), sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and family planning (FP) services, psychological support services (PSS) and COVID-19 awareness services through mobile medical units (MMUs) to seasonal agricultural workers and many families as in the story of Mohammed. DDD is the only NGO providing these services in the area.
Like many other Syrian families, they stayed in Şanlıurfa province of south-eastern Turkey for a short time. However, they found it difficult to find jobs due to the language barriers along with other several reasons. Later, they decided to go to Izmir after their relatives settled in a rural area of the city.
Mohammed works with his wife in the fields of Izmir’s rural areas. They can find work two or three days a week. When one goes to work, the other stays in the tent to look after their five children. Most of the time, however, the younger children are taken care of by their older siblings. Mohammed and his wife work for 70 TL (7,77 EUR) per day. Their income is insufficient to rent a house where they can live in more favourable conditions. For expenses such as water and electricity, they pay 500 TL (55 EUR) monthly rent to the landowner where they set up their tent.
Dünya Doktorları Health Care Services
Mohammed and his family cannot access health services, education or other support services in Izmir.
The family live very far from the state-led refugee healthcare center, through which the Ministry of Health conducts the EU supported SIHHAT project. Mohammed and his family cannot reach this centre on their own because they cannot afford to pay for transportation.
Many families can only access healthcare services through DDD’s mobile medical units (MMUs) teams. With funding from DG ECHO, Mohammed’s family and other seasonal refugee workers in neighbouring districts and provinces benefit from the primary health care, hygiene, family planning, and psychosocial support services provided through DDD’s mobile medical units.
DDD also distributes hygiene kits in the tent areas in rural areas in the region, where the living conditions are so difficult. In addition to hygiene kits, DDD offers information and training in these areas to help people stay healthy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Deprived of the most basic sheltering facilities, these families do not have heaters or fuel to keep warm in winter. The makeshift tents are not waterproof, and children need winter clothes and winter shoes.
There is a need for a world that will give children hope and support for the future, providing them with access to the most basic needs that everyone deserves and helps them break the cycle of poverty and discrimination experienced by their families.
Note: Some specific information (names, places, etc.) in the story is changed to protect individuals’ privacy.
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