The Syrian Refugees Programme in Turkey: cultural diversity is key

Tue 15 Nov 2016 01:08:00 PM EET

EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2016. As the Syrian crisis has entered its fifth year, many of the refugees who arrived in Turkey will stay there for good. EAEA member YUVA association reaches out to them through community centres, which have been established in the spirit of intercultural dialogue.

The article series shares good practices by introducing the nominees of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2016.

The Syrian Refugees Programme, ongoing since 2013, is YUVA’s timely and much-needed response to the refugee crisis. With approximately 2.8 million refugees in Turkey, YUVA opened community centres in Kirikhan and Nizip, two towns with a particularly high number of Syrian refugees. Through a series of non-formal learning activities, YUVA fosters intercultural dialogue and cooperation between the Turkish and Syrian population.

Considering language learning to be the basis for successful integration, YUVA provides language courses of both Turkish and English. The organization explains that minimizing the language barrier improves access to government services and hospitals as well as increases the employment rate among refugees. That said, YUVA’s activities extend further and include awareness raising sessions, social and legal counselling, computer courses and vocational trainings.

Most of all, YUVA underscores the importance of intercultural learning. By employing a mixed staff, of Turkish and Syrian descent, the organization sets an example that learners themselves can follow. Wide outreach is also crucial – YUVA notes the particular difficulty of involving mothers, who often think they cannot participate because of the responsibilities at home. This is why the community centres now include early childhood care and designated spaces for children.

YUVA’s efforts have already borne fruits: the number of participants in 2015 almost doubled compared to the previous year. Perhaps the most powerful testament to the success of the programme is the fact that neither Kirikhan nor Nizip have seen any xenophobic incidents, as opposed to other cities in Turkey.

The project: The Syrian Refugees Programme in Turkey

Programme coordinator:

  • Organisation: YUVA
  • Contact: Ozge Sonmez

Resources:

Text: Aleksandra Kozyra
Photos: YUVA Association