Projects in Türkiye

2021 – 2023

Multi-sectorial Approach for Fostering Resilience among Non-Syrian Refugee and Vulnerable Host Communities. (2022-2023)

Türkiye has been host to the world’s largest refugee population since 2014. Official numbers suggest that there are 3.6 million Syrians under temporary protection, over 330,000 refugees from other nationalities, and asylum seekers under international protection.  According to the information provided by PDMM, more than 100.000 registered refugees are in Kayseri. Among those, around 60% are Syrian, 20% are Iranian, 10% are Afghan, and 10% are Iraqi.

Unregistered Afghan and Iraqi refugees are disproportionally disadvantaged when accessing rights, services, and opportunities due to registration problems and limited services designed only for refugees under temporary protection.  Women are disproportionally affected. According to a recent study on “Women Entrepreneurship in Turkey”, the main obstacles facing women entrepreneurs in Turkey are socio-cultural aspects such as stereotypical gender roles as primary caregivers of children, limited participation in the labor force, lack of financial access, lack of social networks, lack of business and management skills, lack of female role models and lack of awareness about acquiring knowledge. These obstacles increase for refugee women since there are more gaps in education, livelihood, and opportunities due to their refugee status. 

RET has developed the project “Multi-sectoral Approach for Fostering Resilience among Non-Syrian Refugee and Vulnerable Host Communities,”  aimed at increasing the resilience of non-Syrian refugees and host communities in Kayseri. The project proposes (1) increasing access to the labor market of women from refugee and vulnerable host communities, (2) fostering sustainable and lasting social cohesion, while preventing sexual and gender-based violence and promoting sexual and reproductive health. The project will target non-Syrian and host communities during the one-year project life cycle.

RET will support women from non-Syrian refugee and vulnerable host communities by providing them with Technical and Vocational training focused on artisanal and natural local products complemented with soft skills training. Furthermore, RET will deliver capacity-building activities to members of cooperatives, women’s enterprises, and Afghan and Iraqi refugees on multiple topics, including entrepreneurship, marketing strategies, and business plan development, while promoting social cohesion and an inclusive work environment.

 RET will work towards advancing social cohesion by organizing structured awareness-raising sessions while involving members of public institutions and civil society actors working with refugees. RET will provide a quick language learning program to help non-Syrian girls and women learn the Turkish language for faster integration.  RET will advance the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence and promote sexual and reproductive health in Kayseri through awareness-raising sessions on sexual and gender-based violence and information dissemination sessions on sexual and reproductive health.

This project is implemented between April 2022 and March 2023 by RET in partnership with the Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality and LEAP (LNGO) in Türkiye.


Strengthen the Resilience and Social Cohesion of Syrian and Turkish Women in Şanlıurfa (TVET), 2021-2022

The sudden and violent demographic changes in Şanlıurfa as a result of the displacement of the Syrian population, combined with the challenges of job search, lack of or irregular income, competition for the already limited resources and obstacles to access to basic services such as health and education, have worsened the living conditions of Syrian refugees and Turkish residents in the region alike and increased the risk of social tensions between Syrian refugee and Turkish host communities.

In consortium with RET Germany (INGO), LEAP has been implementing a project targeting Syrian refugees and Turkish women through TVET training courses and awareness courses on GBV and social cohesion. The project provides Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for women from the refugee and host communities. The vocational training focuses on vegetable and fruit drying based on an innovative and advanced industrial solar drying process that is environmentally friendly and delivers high-quality products.

Almost every household in Şanlıurfa traditionally dries vegetables and fruit in summer. Many women produce dried vegetables and fruits at home and sell their products in small quantities in a limited market. Their production capacity at home is not sufficient to generate a sustainable income and meet their basic needs. Moreover, the drying of traditional vegetables and fruits at home does not meet hygienic standards and is limited to the summer season, while the drying with solar cells that LEAP intends to operate within the project can be done all year round with hygienic methods. In collaboration with the Food Technology Department of Harran University, RET developed a tailored methodology for the TVET training, providing courses on Food Technology, Food Security, Hygiene and Sanitation, and Work Safety for the women participants through interactive training modules.

The project aims to sensitize and empower more than 1000 women amongst Turkish and Syrian/Iraqi refugees and their family members, including male members, through awareness sessions on Gender-based Violence (GBV) and social cohesion. To “Leave No One Behind”, LEAP has been targeting rural districts and villages around Şanlıurfa with #GBV training, namely in Suruç District Sağlık, Mutluca, and Havşanlı in partnership with the Public Education Center and the Governorship of Şanlıurfa. The women’s products are marketed for (retail and wholesale) through the @leapNatural social media account and via e-mail marketing, face-to-face and virtual meetings with the private sector. Follow @LeapNatural on Instagram and/or check out www.leapnatural.com to support women’s socio-economic empowerment.

This project, implemented between February 2021 and January 2022 was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) – BENGO and implemented in consortium with RET Germany e.V. (INGO, Berlin) and LEAP in Türkiye.


Turkish and English Language Learning Program as a tool for Empowerment and Social Cohesion.

Refugees in Turkey face many challenges, from shelter to food to providing their families needs. The limited working knowledge of the Turkish language impedes SuTPs from accessing income generation opportunities to reduce their multidimensional vulnerabilities. Hence, 3RP 2019-2020 emphasized language training, with the plan recommending “complimenting vocational training and entrepreneurial support with training on other critical skills such as Turkish language courses.” Limited language proficiency also prevails against SuTPs knowing their rights and accessing much-needed public services in different fields, including education and health. Language is particularly problematic for female refugees who have trouble integrating more into social life. Despite the significant human and financial resources allocated to the Syrian crisis, specifically in capacity building, awareness-raising sessions, livelihood supports, and/or social cohesion programs, little has been dedicated to bridging the language barrier. Bridging the language barrier is necessary to ensure better refugee integration and service accessibility and improve access to the labor market.

The project empowered youth, women, and refugees by bridging the language divide, advancing social cohesion, and increasing participation in the public sphere. RET aimed to integrate adolescent, youth, and women refugees and support social cohesion through Turkish and English language learning classes in Mardin, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, Ankara, and Çorum. In collaboration with “Liela” a charitable foundation supported by Liechtenstein’s Government, RET will prepare and adapt the Turkish and English language learning materials as part of a “language mediation project” within the Liechtenstein Language program. RET will also provide Training of Trainers (ToT) of English and Turkish language courses and Turkish Language Classes, as well as English Language Classes for refugees in Mardin, Sanlıurfa, Kilis, Ankara, and Çorum.

This project will enhance social cohesion by facilitating the communication between two communities by establishing trust, value sharing, and social integration, thanks to the language learning programs. In addition to that, refugees will rely on others/translators for their daily tasks because of the language barrier. Through this program, refugees can benefit from social services like health, education, or legal services more quickly and efficiently.

This project, is implemented between May 2021 and December 2022 by RET in partnership with LEAP (LNGO) in Turkiye.


Multi-sectoral Approach for Fostering Resilience among Non-Syrian Refugee and Vulnerable Host Communities 

Turkey is host to the world’s largest refugee population since 2014. Official numbers suggest that there are 3.6 million Syrians under temporary protection, over 330,000 refugees, and asylum seekers under international protection in the face of statistical uncertainty. According to the information provided by PDMM, there is more than 100.000 Syrian and non-Syrian refugees in Kayseri. Among those, around 60% is Syrian, 20% is Iranian, 10% is Afghan and 10% is Iraqi. However, adding the number of unregistered refugees the number of non-Syrian refugees is higher than indicated above. 

Afghan and Iraqi refugees are disproportionally disadvantaged compared to refugees under temporary protection when it comes to accessing rights, services, and opportunities due to registration problems, non-inclusive and limited services designed for refugees under temporary protection.  According to the study “Women Entrepreneurship in Turkey as an Emerging Economy”, the main obstacles for women entrepreneurs in Turkey are socio-cultural aspects such as stereotypical gender roles as primary caregivers of children and not being expected to participate in the labor force; lack of financial access; lack of social networks; lack of business and management skills; lack of female role models and lack of awareness about acquiring knowledge. These obstacles increase for refugee women since there are more gaps in education, livelihood and communication opportunities for refugees due to their refugee status. Related to the economic downfall, the polarization between refugee and host community increases. As the purchasing power decreases and unemployment rate increases, social tension aggravates. Besides, language barrier still stands as a major concern effecting refugees’ access to rights, services and opportunities, as well as negatively affecting social cohesion. 

RET has developed a Multi-sectoral Approach for Fostering Resilience among Non-Syrian Refugee and Vulnerable Host Communities project that aims at increasing the resilience of non-Syrian refugees and host communities in Kayseri. Seeking to (1) increase access to labor market of women from refugee and vulnerable host communities, (2) to foster sustainable and lasting social cohesion, and to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and promote sexual and reproductive health, the project will non-Syrian and host communities during the one year project life cycle.

RET will support women from non-Syrian refugee and vulnerable host communities by giving them technical and Vocational Trainings focused on artisanal and natural local products complemented with soft skills trainings. Furthermore, RET will deliver capacity building trainings to members of cooperatives, women’s enterprises and social enterprises of Afghan and Iraqi refugees in entrepreneurship, marketing strategies, business plan development and while promoting social cohesion and inclusive work environment.

 RET will work towards advancing sustainable social cohesion in organizing structured awareness raising sessions on social cohesion while respecting gender parity and involving members of public institutions and civil society actors working with refugees. Innovative approaches like quick language learning program will be used to help non-Syrian girls and women learn Turkish language for smooth cohabitation. RET will advance the prevention of sexual and gender based violence and promote sexual and reproductive health in Kayseri through awareness raising sessions on sexual and gender based violence and information dissemination sessions on sexual and reproductive health.

The 12-month-long project is implemented by RET International in partnership with the Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality.


Local Women’ Socio-Economic Empowerment and Performing Arts Centre as a tool for Social Cohesion and Youth Empowerment in Turkiye.

The project’s goal was to build the employability profile and improve the income generation prospect of targeted vulnerable refugee and host community women through self-reliance training, in tandem with raising their awareness regarding SGBV & SRH issues in Mardin, Kilis, and Şanlıurfa. This project empowered vulnerable refugees (Syrian and Iraqi) and host (Turkish) women aged 16-45 years by building the professional skills that would allow them to generate income in Mardin and provided more than 1’500 women with prevention of risks associated with Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Sexual and Reproductive Health through awareness-raising sessions. RET provided business opportunities for refugee and host community women through technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in (Soap making in Mardin, handmade dolls workshop in Kilis, and local food production courses in Şanlıurfa.) Moreover, RET established partnerships to create sustainable marketing networks for women in Mardin, Kilis, and Şanlıurfa.

The project’s second goal was to promote youth agency through empowerment and social cohesion by celebrating diversity and promoting integration through Music and Dance (Social Healing & Integration through Art) in Mardin. The project enhanced the capacity of two diverse ensembles, the RET Orchestra and Choir (RYOC) and RET Youth Dance Company (RYDC), and to the sustainability of the newly established RET Performing Arts Centre (2018) by the implementation of the following activities:

  • Minor renovations to address the structural deficiencies of the center and improve the center infrastructure
  • Capacity building of the dance and music trainers to improve the overall quality of the programs with the technical support of the Haute École de Musique de Genève (HEM)
  • Delivery of the Regular Arts Program (music and dance modules) to Syrian and Turkish adolescents and youth along with outreach activities to identify more youth interested in the program and certification after successful completion of the modules
  • Innovative workshops contribute to the materials and equipment of the Arts Program while raising awareness of environmental issues (e.g., fabrication of dance costumes through recycling)
  • Family awareness-raising meetings aimed at positive parenting
  • Referrals to as well as coaching and guidance on formal education opportunities (cross-institutional) for the enrolled beneficiaries
  • The enrolled beneficiaries will give small musical and dance performances to apply and present the skills learned at the end of each workshop.

The RET Performing Arts Center’s ultimate goal is to promote social cohesion between the host and refugee children and youth by sharing music & dance experiences. In this regard, the project will create a space for socialization, safeguarding inter-cultural dialogue, and strengthen participants’ sense of achievement and accomplishment by awarding them the opportunity to implement and apply the M&D knowledge they have learned. Moreover, the youth’s employability prospect was increased through technical music training to art education. Also, RET provided performing arts as a tool to address psychosocial distress, increasing youth’s self-esteem and confidence while diminishing youth’s vulnerabilities affected by the Syrian crisis. The vocational training workshops/sessions equipped the Syrian and local vulnerable women in Mardin with new skills and knowledge impacting their family’s self-reliance. It enhanced the inter-community dialogue and understanding among them, thus facilitating the integration of Syrian refugees into Turkish society.

Ultimately, this will lead to more stable and peaceful communities and gender equality-based socio-economic development in the long term. The project bridged the gap in social cohesion and youth empowerment by employing humanitarian and innovative artistic approaches by combining theory and practice. This accomplishment was further strengthened through a five years’ partnership with the prestigious “Haute école de musique de Genève – Neuchâtel” (Geneva HEM) (2018-2022), and with the inauguration of a RET center for Arts in Kızıltepe in Turkey.

The project was implemented between August 2021 & August 2022 by RET in Türkiye.


2019 – 2020

Enhancing Protection of Under-Served Communities in (1) Çorum & (2) Samsun – Two projects.
The protracted nature of the Syrian crisis coupled with the huge influx of Syrian refugees into Türkiye have led to mounting demographic and economic pressure across the country. The aim of the project is to “Facilitate vulnerable individuals’ – host, refugee and asylum seekers – “Access to Services & Rights” in Çorum & Samsun ” through a community-based approach conducive of reducing vulnerabilities. This project is initiated within the scope of the “Local Initiative Fund in Türkiye” “LIFT” Project which is co-financed by the European Union through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)and co-implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and RET in Türkiye.

RET will use a community-based and center-based approaches, catering to different age brackets providing various services: Awareness Raising, Legal Counseling, Individual Counseling, Individual Protection Assistance- Early Identification and Safe Referral, Psychosocial Support (PSS) and Capacity Building Activity- Mainstreaming GBV in International Protection Forums.Targeting the community at large will be achieved through outreach activities that serve two main objectives: (a) information dissemination and awareness raising regarding educational and protection opportunities available, including those provided by RET’s centers; and (b) identifying beneficiaries with protection concerns and/or educational needs that require further follow up and support.

A community center will be set up around Kunduzhan region, which is largely populated by Iraqi refugees to provide geographical proximity and facilitate access and also foster multicultural co-existence while delivering individual assistance and community-based protection activities. The designation of Kunduzhan district, where refugee communities reside will also help to provide culturally appropriate space and facilitate the participation of especially women and adolescent girls whose mobility is traditionally highly restricted. RET has conducted a preliminary needs-assessment with the refugee community and public authorities including Provincial Directorate of Migration Management, to identify the gaps in the provisioning of and access to protection services. With the establishment of community-center, RET aims at creating a safe space for the most vulnerable, where psychologists, social workers and a lawyer are accessible equipped with additional skills of early identification of psychosocial stress and trauma including SGBV.

RET has an established space in Çorum & Samsun, in which women-empowerment project is carried out through wood-print activities that contribute to women’s incomes. The center-based approach will allow beneficiaries:

(i)        Regain some sense of normalcy given the trauma and psychosocial stress most have been exposed to or experienced as a result of forced displacement;
(ii)       Feel emotionally and socially empowered through custom-tailored interventions;
(iii)      Expand the female beneficiaries’ access to public domain, by expanding their social network(s) beyond the prevailing societal limitations and restrictions imposed on them;
(iv)      Overcome the information gap as related to protection services;

The two project (Corum & Samsun) are being implemented respectively between January 2020 and December 2020, and March 2020 and  December 2020  are co-financed by the European Union through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)and co-implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

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Psychosocial Support – LIFT – MyLife Center Corum – RET 2020

PEP – Promotion of Economic Prospects for refugees and the host community in Türkiye
The need for professional, effective and coherent social cohesion measures remains high in Türkiye. In fact, one can witness a rather growing need for social cohesion activities due to rising tensions between the Turkish population and the SuTP´s amidst a struggling economy and furthermore, increasingly critically local politics. However, many local and international organization, active in Türkiye in the field of improving the socio-economic relief of SuTP, lack knowledge and expertise, as well as well trained staff in the sphere of social cohesion. Thus, the positive effects of the socio-economic activities of many locally active organizations, such as Turkish NGO´s, Turkish-Syrian NGO´s, international NGO´s, chambers of commerce and industry and other actors such as municipalities, sometimes do not reach their full aim, of improving the living conditions of SuTP and members of the host communities holistically, e.g. economically and with regards to social integration. There is a high demand of those organizations for additional measures to be taken, in order to improve their expertise in the field of social cohesion. The pilot 6-month program “Promotion of Economic Prospects for Refugees and Host Communities in Türkiye” (PEP), is implemented by Gesellschaft für Internatonale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and financed by Bundesministerium für Internationale Zusamenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) through the German governments Special Initiative ‘tackling the root causes of displacement, stabilizing host regions and supporting refugees’.

The aim of the PEP Program is to strengthen the employment prospects of Syrian refugees and members of the host community in the provinces and municipalities hosting high numbers of refugees. The project aims at enabling the target groups and their families, especially vulnerable households, to generate income in the short to medium term, while at the same time stabilizing the host communities and promoting peaceful coexistence between Syrian refugees and the local population. The project aims at providing skills development and access to decent work for the target groups and at strengthening the supply side of the private sector.

To reach this goal, RET will offer PEP´s implementing partners additional training activities for their project staff as well as additional social cohesion activities for the beneficiaries of their specific project (SuTP and Turkish members of the host community). Current partners are listed in the table below, but they might increase and change during the course of the implementation of the project. The beneficiaries are the organizations executing the grant programs, based on applications accepted by GIZ.

RET believes that promoting/mainstreaming social cohesion, and safeguarding social inclusion, between refugee and host community members requires adopting a comprehensive gender-balanced approach that addresses the “Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion & Participation”: the primary drivers of tension, the structural vulnerabilities and the power dynamics on different fronts (social, economic and cultural) and their manifestations at: (i) Microsystems Level (e.g., families, friends); (ii) Organizations Level (e.g., schools, workplaces); (iii) Localities Level (e.g., neighborhoods, towns, hard-to-reach rural areas); and (iv) Macrosystems Level (e.g., cultures, governments, social mediums, belief systems).

RET’s Social Cohesion Strategy is aligned with Council of Europe Action Plan for Social Cohesion; and aims primarily at helping vulnerable beneficiaries (a) Regain a sense of normalcy; (b) Feel emotionally and socioeconomically empowered and socially accepted through custom-tailored interventions; (c) Improve their overall well-being (being a multidimensional concept); (d) expanding social network(s) and participation in public sphere, beyond the prevailing societal limitations and restrictions imposed; and finally (e) celebrating and embracing cultural diversity.

The pilot 6-month project, implemented between January 2020 and June 2020 is co-implemented with Gesellschaft für Internatonale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and funded by Bundesministerium für Internationale Zusamenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ)

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PEP, Kick-off meeting with Implementing Partners, Turkey – RET 2020

 Refugee and Local Women’ Socio-Economic Empowerment

The project addressed the needs of refugee and vulnerable local women living in semi-urban and peripheral areas, in particular Şanlıurfa, Mardin and Çorum, by strengthening their self-reliance and assisting their families with sustainable income. Lacking proper training limits women’s chances to enter labor market; in response the Socio-Economic empowerment project increased the professional profiles of the women by providing them with skills trainings.

Workshops in handmade soap production; trainings on making Dolls, natural dyeing and wood printing workshops were offered to local and refugee women, supporting them in setting up small businesses to sell their handmade products and generate income. In addition to the vocational trainings, advanced technical trainings for women interested in setting up small local businesses were offered, providing them with knowledge on product design, marketing and entrepreneurship skills. The project decreased the vulnerability of refugee women through support mechanisms that would not only increase their employability and economic productivity, but also provide them with a more protective social environment.

This project is implemented between November 2017 and April 2019.

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Local Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment in Mardin, Kilis and Çorum
The project aimed to strengthen vulnerable local women’s and their family’s resilience and wellbeing through providing self-reliance training to build their employability profile and improve their income generation prospects, in tandem with raising their awareness regarding gender-based violence & sexual and reproductive health issues in Mardin, Çorum and Kilis.

Lacking proper training and qualifications limits the women’s chances to enter the labor market; in response the Socio-Economic Empowerment project increased the professional profiles of the women by providing them with skills trainings. Workshops in handmade soap production; trainings on Dolls making and natural dyeing and wood printing workshops were offered to local women, supporting them in setting up small businesses to sell their handmade products and generate income. In addition to the vocational trainings, additional advanced technical trainings for women interested in setting up small local businesses were offered, providing the women with knowledge on sustainable marketing networks and branding process and entrepreneurship. The project decreased vulnerability of women through support mechanisms that would not only increase their employability and economic productivity, but also provide them with a more protective social environment.

This project is implemented between July 2018 and December 2020.

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