Background on IcSP Project implemented by IOM: Enhancing access to services, strengthening resilience of host communities, and facilitating integration of refugees



“Enhancing access to services, strengthening resilience of host communities, and facilitating integration of refugees”


International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

Implementing partners:

Syrian NGO Syria Social Gathering (SSG), International Blue Crescent (IBC) and Doctors WorldWide (DWW)



Overall objective:

To ensure Syrian refugees have increased access to services, contribute to their self-reliance and integration in Turkey as well as strengthened resilience of host-communities.

Specific objectives:

(1) Syrian refugees living outside of camps in Antakya and Istanbul have increased access to primary health care, psychosocial support, legal assistance, education and vocational trainings;

(2) Socio-cultural activities encourage positive interactions between Syrian refugees and host community members and build social cohesion;

(3) The services and capacity of the three Implementing Partners (IPs), i.e. Syria Social Gathering, International Blue Crescent (IBC) and Doctors Worldwide (DWW), is improved and is protection sensitive.

To this end, two Multi-Service Community Centres (MSCs) in Istanbul and Antakya (Hatay province) have been set up under this project to deliver basic services to Syrian refugees living in these two cities.


The project's implementing partner IOM is working closely with governmental and non-governmental partners in Turkey response to the protracted Syrian refugee crisis. Through this IcSP funded project, IOM is implementing interventions aimed at enhancing access to basic services and strengthening social cohesion between refugees and host communities in Turkey.

The action is implemented in Hatay and Istanbul through a network of non-governmental organizations namely Doctors Worldwide Turkey (DWWT), International Blue Crescent (IBC) and Syrian Social Gathering (SSG). The partners operate multiservice centers that provide basic services to refugees, The services include primary and secondary education, legal counselling, primary health care, psycho-social support, vocational training. In addition, IOM and the partners are also aiming to contribute towards self-reliance of refugees and improved interaction with the host-communities in Turkey.

The project had so far reached 148,874 Syrians and 4,735 local Turkish community members, which makes the total number of beneficiaries 153,609.

More specifically, 59,818 Syrians had benefited from primary health-care services in the İstanbul Primary Health Care Clinic; 19,735 Syrians had participated to various activities explained below in the İstanbul Community Centre in Sultanbeyli; and 69,321 Syrians had received various forms of assistance provided in the Multiservice centre in Hatay, Antakya.

Provision of primary health care services in İstanbul

In November 2015, the project's implementing partner IOM, together with its NGO partner Doctors Worldwide Turkey (DWWT) opened a Primary Health Care Clinic in Fatih district of İstanbul. Facilities were rented from the Bezmialem University Hospital, and the primary health care clinic is open 6 days per week from 5pm to 9pm during the weekdays and 3pm to 6pm on Saturdays.

Since November 2015 to date, the clinic provided 59,818 Syrian refugees with free health care consultations including general practitioner, paediatrics, gynaecology, internal diseases and general surgery. Furthermore the clinic provides medical laboratory facility and free pharmacy service to those beneficiaries requiring such services. As of May 2016, the primary health clinic started providing psychosocial support to beneficiaries. In total DWWT has 20 staff (5 doctors, 3 nurses, 1 pharmacist, 3 translators and 8 administrative personnel). Partner has knowledge about the IASC Guidelines for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support.

Through this activity the action aims to improve the health status of the Syrian refugees located in Fatih District in Istanbul by providing primary health care services through the primary clinic. The services are provided by 5 Syrian doctors who provide general practitioner, paediatrics, gynaecology, internal diseases and general surgery.

At the onset of the project in January 2016, the clinic was initially conducting 3,000 consultations per month however this number picked at 5,336 as of May 2016, due to increased demand for health services as many Syrian refugees are now aware of the facility. More than total of 42,000 consultations were undertaken in providing health care to 25,736 refugees.

Since December 2015, IOM has been in partnership with DWWT in operating a primary health clinic for Syrian refugees living with host communities in Fatih District in Istanbul. During the period January to March 2016, a cumulative total of 25,736 refugees received health services from the primary health clinic.

The clinic provides free medical consultation and pharmacy dispensary services to Syrian refugees. The medical services include general medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and maternal health.

Sultanbeyli Community Center, İstanbul

In December 2015, the project's implementing partner IOM, together with its NGO partner International Blue Crescent (IBC) has opened a Community Centre in Sultanbeyli district of İstanbul and the operational activities of the centre has started in January 2016.

The Sultanbeyli community centre has been providing services on vocational trainings such as computer class, drawings, handcrafts as well as English, Turkish and Arabic language courses. Additional services include psychosocial support, legal assistance and conflict management/socio-cultural activities.

As of today, the community center has reached 19,735 beneficiaries since January 2016 through vocational skills trainings, psychosocial support, legal counselling and child friendly space. In order to encourage positive interactions between Syrian refugees and host community members and IBC have initiated sporting events and other socio-cultural activities.

At the Sultanbeyli community centre, IBC has been providing psychosocial support activities through the child care room, group counselling sessions and individual support. Since the beginning of the psychosocial assistance to July 2016, 1,002 have been benefited from the child care, child group discussions and individual support.

The implementing partner has been providing legal counselling through legal advice sessions because of the lack of knowledge about the Laws and regulations which organize and directly affect the life of Syrian Refugees living in Turkey. Since commencing legal counselling 39 people participated in sessions to July 2016.

Non-formal education comprising Turkish, English and Arabic language courses have been provided since January 2016. The purpose of the courses is to enable Syrians to live independently, access services and interact with the host community. Since the beginning of the courses, in total 1,570 beneficiaries has benefited from the vocational training courses.

Multi-service Centre in Antakya, Hatay

In December 2015, the project's implementing partner IOM, together with its NGO partner Syrian Social Gathering, opened a Multi-service centre in Akasya district of Antakya. As of today, the centre has registered 69,312 beneficiaries who are receiving various forms of assistance mainly school transportation, primary and secondary education, psychosocial support, legal assistance and vocational training courses. All registered beneficiaries receive information awareness sessions during the registrations process. The centre also provides health care awareness raising and community cohesion activities.

Within the centre, a primary and secondary school was established, and between January 2016 – July 2016 about 1,500 refugee children aged 5 to 18 were attending classes at the school. Lessons are conducted on a daily basis and the school administration follows the Syrian curriculum that has been approved by Ministry of National Education for provision of education to Syrian refugees. All of the children attending the school are provided with school transportation.

At the Antakya community centre psychosocial support activities were initiated in March 2016 and the total number of individuals assisted until July 2016 is 5,095. For this service, Syrian Social Gathering assigned 5 trained staff to provide psychosocial counselling and basic protection mechanisms in the Arabic language. The PSS counselling sessions include individual and group sessions as well as other activities which include playing motivational games through storytelling, theatre acting, art drawing and sports activities.

The legal department of the Multi-service centre was been established on April 2016 and has assisted 438 cases since June 2016. The legal team conducts legal consultation and counselling on women’s rights, children rights, refugee/temporary protection regulations, protection the rights of married women and children; and their legitimate presence in Turkey as refugees. The legal department has also conducted activities to raise awareness on international and Turkish refugee legal rights covering topics such as marriage and divorce, birth registrations.

The Antakya multi service community centre started vocational training activities in April 2016. Since then, the project has provided 4,148 beneficiaries with Vocational Training courses.  The courses provided are include computer courses, English and Turkish language courses, University courses (YÖS), knitting and sewing, embroidery and handcrafting, human resources development, and basic accounting management.

Hand-over of medical equipment in Hatay

The project needed to be amended because of the unforeseeable change of policy by the Ministry of Health which has heavily affected the health related activities planned to be implemented in Hatay province (as well as in other provinces throughout Turkey) by the NGO Syrian Social Gathering (SSG).

While all the activities in the Multi-Service Centre in Istanbul have been carried out with no major obstacles to-date going even beyond the expected results, the activities by the Syrian NGO SSG aimed at the provision of health services to the Syrian refugees living in Hatay could not be implemented. The clinic that SSG had planned to set up in Hatay was not granted permission to operate by the Ministry of Health (MoH) due to major policy changes adopted by MoH mid-last year by which the provision of health care to refugees would only and exclusively be under the control and responsibility of the MoH itself. Since then, NGOs working in the provision of primary health care to refugees in Turkey, particularly the international ones, have been considerably restricted in their work.

The contract was amended to introduce MoH as implementing partner under this project and as such they would contribute to the achievement of the objectives with regard to primary health care for Syrian refugees.

The MoH will be beneficiary of the medical equipment procured by IOM for the clinic in Hatay which has not been granted permission to operate. After having used the equipment in the extended period of the project implementation, the equipment is transferred to MoH and will continue to be used by the Ministry in a Migration Health Centre in Hatay province, which is funded by the EU under a-300-M-EUR direct grant to the MoH. The direct grant however does not cover medical equipment of the kind purchased under this IcSP project, which would further contribute to the activities of MoH.

The medical equipment being transferred to MoH is estimated as €220.000 and will include equipment such as gynecologic tables, digital ECG devices, oxygen concentrators, Ultrasound machines, microscopes, digital traction machine, baby weighing machines, various surgical instruments, examination furniture, office furniture, computers, etc.