Meeting your basic needs is often one of the first struggles of people fleeing conflict. IOM Turkey’s first direct assistance to Syrians back in 2013 provided essential non-food items (NFIs) like blankets, clothing or diapers. Initially, IOM provided in-kind items to Syrians living in camps and then expanded to those living in rural or hard to reach areas.
Seven years into the conflict in Syria, the situation on the ground continues to be dire. Those most affected by the conflict are civilians. Too many have lost their homes, their livelihoods and loved ones. Millions of Syrians have fled to neighboring countries.
Today, Turkey continues to host the world’s largest refugee population with nearly 4 million Syrians living within its borders and another 315,000 seeking international protection. That is more than the number of people who live in the city of Rome.
Food kitchens may provide the only meal a refugee or vulnerable migrant may eat in a whole day. Three IOM-supported food kitchens in Gaziantep (along the Turkish-Syrian border) provide a hot meal each day to approximately 6,000 vulnerable people, including around 4,000 Syrians and another 2,000 people from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. IOM also installed new roofs outside each kitchen to ensure refugees and the host community members waiting outside were protected from rain, snow and the hot summer sun.
Protracted regional conflicts and a lack of hope for the future has contributed to the significant increase in the number of migrants and refugees taking to the seas in an effort to reach Europe. In 2015, nearly 850,000 migrants and refugees took a perilous journey to cross to Greece. The majority of those using this migration route were Syrians, followed by Afghans and Pakistanis. Children accounted for more than one in five of those who crossed, but disproportionately accounted for thirty percent of all recorded deaths in the Aegean Sea.
Ahmed and his wife Ismah live in a mud house straddling the Turkey-Syria border near their hometown of Kobane. The mud house has been their home since fleeing to Turkey and discovering it two years ago. The mud helps the home remain cool during the summer months whilst also retaining heat during the winter months. Ahmed and his wife Ismah were former recipients of NFI distributions from IOM and received a stove and carpet, which helped the couple through the cold winter months. Originally from Kobane, the couple have been living here since they fled Syria two years ago.
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