With the assistance and help of the Turkish Red Crescent, Syrian refugees are developing self-reliance and self-esteem and no longer see themselves as refugees or foreigners but as guests in a neighboring country
The Turkish Red Crescent (TRC), a 148-year-old humanitarian organization and a strong member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is an important global actor and often the first responder to human-made or natural emergencies globally. Among those, Pakistan, Georgia, Haiti, Somalia, Libya and Nepal are only some examples.
Over the last decade, the TRC has provided humanitarian assistance in multiple sectors in 137 countries and currently has ongoing programs in five countries: Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine/Gaza and Bangladesh. In addition, the TRC is implementing projects in partnership with the local National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in another 10 countries. At the domestic level, the TRC plays an important role in national disaster management, blood donation and social services in Turkey. It has the capacity to provide shelter and nutrition support to 300,000 people in case of emergencies with eight regional and 25 local disaster management centers and 700 local branches. For nutrition, more qualified, quicker service is ensured with Mobile Bakery and Mobile Kitchen and Mobile Catering vehicles.
Since 2011, as an auxiliary to the government, the TRC continues to support Syrians arriving to Turkey in camps and urban areas by implementing large-scale programs in shelter, food, nutrition, education and social integration. The TRC assisted the government in the establishment of 25 camps for Syrians and provides food as well as non-food aid. Within the scope of the Syria Crisis Humanitarian Response, the TRC developed an innovative cash-based assistance model with an electronic voucher called "KızılayCard" that provides monthly cash-support to beneficiaries. The added value of this new model is that KızılayCard helps refugees develop self-reliance and self-esteem. Beneficiaries no longer see themselves as refugees or foreigners but as guests in a neighboring country who are free to make their own decisions without being constrained by an outer control mechanism. Today, more than 250,000 Syrians in Turkey benefit from the KızılayCard program and receive monthly cash support to cover their food needs. International organizations in Lebanon and Jordan have taken the KızılayCard program as a model and have started to implement it for Syrians.
In addition to livelihood support through KızılayCard, the TRC implements the Community Center Project, another large-scale activity to ensure that host and arrival communities live in harmony and peace. TRC Community Centers established in Istanbul, Şanlıurfa, Konya, Ankara and Kilis provide referral and health support and vocational and language courses to more than 100,000 Syrian men, women and youth. Both the KızılayCard and Community Center projects are dynamic and will continue to expand in the months to come.
Along with other national organizations, the TRC also helps strengthen Turkey's position in global humanitarian action, now ranking third in the world based on the amount of money spent on humanitarian aid. It is important to note that it ranks first based on GDP; in other words: "The most generous country." This acceleration and momentum in Turkey's role in global humanitarian action led U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to propose Turkey as the host of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.
Today, the TRC is actively participating in the World Humanitarian Summit, bringing together over 5,000 people, including heads of state, government agencies, academics, the U.N., NGOs and the private sector.
The Turkish Red Crescent was involved in the consultation process for this summit and now will send its messages and share its experiences and innovative models with the international community. Also, the TRC is putting special emphasis on following up commitments and messages that come out of this unique event to ensure it remains engaged in the process.
On the margin of the World Humanitarian Summit, the Turkish Red Crescent is hosting three side events, displaying a multi-purpose exhibition stand and providing soups from various continents to participants. The soups are from countries where the Turkish Red Crescent provides humanitarian assistance, and participants will have their soup in a tent setting. The side events focus on migration, child protection and increased solidarity among the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in OIC Countries.
Having pointed out national and international experiences and the role of the TRC in the summit, this gathering will be an important opportunity to speak out and explore solutions for the most pressing challenges for the humanitarian organizations in today's world.