Turkish NGOs providing aid programs to Syrian refugees

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In this edition of “The Big Picture,” CGTN looks at Turkey’s humanitarian role in the Syrian crisis. Michal Bardavid explores the different ways Turkey is providing for refugees.

Follow Michal Bardavid on Twitter @michal_bardavid

The UN estimates that more than 3 million Syrian refugees are in Turkey. They’ve come over the past 6 years, with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. The Turkish government has let them stay and tried to support their needs, but it’s no easy task.

NGOs in Turkey have proven themselves invaluable, sharing much of the burden in a crisis that is still ongoing. They have taken action in many areas, providing the basic needs food, education, health and business.

Many NGOs have created specific programs for different needs. Some provide Turkish language courses. Others distribute clothes, or teach adults skills they can use in order to find employment. Doctor Mehdi Davut is the President of the Syrian Nour association and works closely with refugees. He stressed that when it comes to aid, there is no room for discrimination.

“At the camps, we don’t ask anyone if they’re Sunni or Alawite, there’s no such thing. We ask, ‘Do you need a tent? We have one, so you are welcome.’ That’s all,” he said.

One major issue for refugees is health. “Communication between doctors and patients is a critical problem. If the patient doesn’t clearly understand the doctor he or she cannot heal,” Davut said.

Medical experts also emphasize the importance for Syrian refugees to be treated by Syrian doctors. Some illnesses are specific to regions and Turkish doctors may not be familiar with the treatment that is required. Humanitarian Relief Foundation “IHH” is another organization that has been working to support Syrian refugees across the country.

The NGO has a factory at the border town of Kilis that produces and distributes bread in the hundreds of thousands. IHH focuses on medical issues and has a prosthetic center. Many refugees suffer from bombing and IED injuries and have lost their limbs. This can have severe physical and psychological effects on the lives of the injured.

In 2018, one of the main focuses both for the Turkish government and for NGOs will be the education of over a million Syrian children currently in Turkey.