Improving access to services for Syrian refugees living in Mersin Province

Project completed

Since the beginning of the crisis, Turkish authorities, with the support of the international community, have been providing comprehensive assistance to Syrians living in the camps. Assistance to those outside has been less comprehensive and more ad hoc. While the government has extended temporary protection to all Syrians in Turkey, allowing them in principle to access public services, the overall number of refugees has stretched national structures and capacities to the utmost. The government has to limit itself to focus on immediate material humanitarian needs, and is largely unable, on its own, to address issues of continuing services, including psycho-social support and integration as the refugee crisis becomes protracted. Beginning October 2014 IOM has therefore embarked on a partnership with a local NGO, the Syria Social Gathering (SSG), to facilitate Syrian refugee's access to services in Mersin province, contributing to their self-reliance and integration in Turkey. The framework for this partnership is SSG's multi-service centre that provides education, vocational training, psychosocial, legal and primary health services to Syrian refugees. IOM's partnership with SSG will strengthen the sustainability of SSG's multi-service centre in Mersin. At present, there are no other local or international organizations providing assistance to the Syrians living in Mersin. So the sustainability of SSG's activities in Mersin is paramount for Syrians in this province to have access to basic services and protection.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Conflict & fragility
Material relief assistance
Psycho-social support (till 2016)
15.12.2014 - 14.09.2015
CHF 1'000'000

Millions of Syrians continue to be displaced inside Syria and in neighbouring countries. The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has continued to rise throughout 2014. In October 2014, Turkey counted 1 '097'740 registered Syrian refugees (UNHCR) and another 500'000 unregistered. Over 220,000 of them are living in 22 camps across 10 provinces in South East Turkey, but an additional 1.4 million Syrians are estimated to be living outside the camps. They can be found throughout the country, but in all evidence mainly in south eastern urban areas and in Istanbul. This development has led to multiple pressures: A geographic movement of refugees away from the border region along the densely urbanized Mediterranean cost, with Adana and Mersin in the first line; and growing difficulties for refugees to have access to basic services and protection. The refugee complex is spreading, and the burden on infrastructures and resources is growing. In response, local and international organisations have set up community centres providing reference and in-centre services to refugees, but these initiatives have focused on the border provinces of Gaziantep, Kilis, Sanhurfa,Hatay. Additional centres are now planned in Adana, lzmir, Istanbul. In Mersin, such a centre was already set up beginning 2012 by the Turco-Syrian NGO Syria Social Gathering, with private funding from the Syrian diaspora. While province-by-province statistics are unavailable in Turkey, the indirect evidence indicates that Mersin province hosts 10- 15% of the total refugee population in the country. In January 2013 SSG concluded an MOU with the "International Medical Corps" (IMC), for the latter to provide medical staff. The IOM-SSG partnership is new, dating from beginning October 2014. The proposal is for SOC's to support this partnership.


Syrian refugees have increased access to services in Mersin province and the project contributes to their self-reliance and integration in Turkey.

Target groups

Syrian refugees living in Mersin province, in particular children and youth for training and education, and particularly vulnerable refugees for basic services and emergency aid.

Medium-term outcomes
  1. Syrian school children in Mersin have continued access to education;
  2. Youth/adults attending vocational courses have better opportunities and are more likely to integrate in Turkey;
  3. Syrian populations living in Mersin province are aware of their rights and access to legal assistance;
  4. Syrian populations in Mersin have access to community based psychosocial assistance;
  5. Conditions of Syrian families who have newly arrived to Mersin/Turkey are improved;
  6. The services and capacity of the Syria Social Gathering is improved and is protection sensitive.

Expected results:  

  1. 2,000 Syrian school children in Mersin have access to daily education;
  2. 10,000 youth/ adults attend language and skills training courses during duration of the project;
  3. 3 lawyers provide legal assistance to Syrians who require civil documentation and case management;
  4. Psychosocial activities/counselling is available and provided by SSG to Syrians living in Mersin;
  5. Needs-based emergency assistance is provided to around 100 vulnerable Syrian families newly arrived in Mersin;
  6. 9 staff training courses are conducted on financial management (1), administration and procurement (1), project management (1), child protection (3), psychosocial support in emergencies (3). This will improve the capacity of SSG to deliver services and access funds to make the SSG centre sustainable beyond 2015.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
Other International Organization
  • International Organisation for Migration

Coordination with other projects and actors

IOM is a full member of the UN-Country Team for Turkey, for continuing inter-agency coordination. IOM-Turkey has participated in the planning process for the UN's Regional Response and Resilience Plan 2015 ("3RP"); and the present project is in line with the Plan. Through its MOU with the "International Medical Corps" (IMC), the local implementing partner for the present project, i.e. SSG, will be able to ensure that its approach at the Mersin centre is in line with similar projects in other provinces (IMC supports several multi-service centres for refugees in other provinces, including Gaziantep and Istanbul). SSG is a fully accredited NGO in Turkey and has long- standing relations with provincial authorities in Mersin, working hand-in-hand with the local services by the latter.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   1'000'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   616'967 Total project since first phase Budget inclusive project partner CHF  1'000'000
Project phases

Phase 1 15.12.2014 - 14.09.2015   (Completed)