Search form

Host to millions


The International Rescue Committee provides vital support to Syrians fleeing violence and struggling to rebuild their lives in Turkey, which currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world.

Country facts
  • Total population: 75 million
  • People displaced by crisis: 3.1million
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 72 of 188
IRC response
  • Started work in Turkey: 2013
  • Number of people we hope to assist in 2016: 32,000

Turkey crisis briefing

Over 3 million desperate people have arrived in Turkey in recent years. They have fled armed conflicts in the region, and the numbers have grown exponentially since the onset of the Syrian conflict. The IRC provides services to improve education, economic wellbeing, safety and legal support for these refugees.

See all

What caused the current crisis in Turkey?

Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world, and has 25 refugee camps to house Syrians who have fled their country. But Turkey does not have the infrastructure to meet the needs of the over 2.4 million Syrians who have arrived so far. In fact, about 90 percent of Syrian refugees live outside of the camps in cities and towns across Turkey. These urban refugees are more at risk for exploitation, isolation, and violence.

In 2016, the Turkish government announced it will start to accept applications from refugees for work permits in an effort to support economic integration and livelihoods.  

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Turkey?

Due to culture and language barriers in Turkey, refugees have limited access to the resources they need to rebuild their lives.

Women often struggle to find health services and safe spaces to heal from abuse. Many children don’t attend school. Lack of economic opportunities has led to increased domestic violence and child labour in refugee communities.

How does the IRC help in Turkey?

The IRC’s mission is to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees living in difficult conditions. The IRC also provides support to vulnerable communities that host refugees.

We began our work in Turkey in 2013 offering health care, safety services and emergency relief  to uprooted Syrians across the border inside Syria. Within Turkey, the IRC has provided winter assistance, safety-related services, education and livelihoods opportunities to refugees since 2013. As Turkey struggles to accommodate the influx of Syrian and other refugees, the IRC is focusing our efforts in the Hatay and Osmaniye Provinces on the Syrian border by:

  • launching education services for Syrian youth
  • providing psychological support, income opportunities and counselling services to women and girls
  • supporting the success of uprooted Syrian youth with resources for skill-building and trauma recovery

What still needs to be done?

As conflicts in Syria and elsewhere continue, and refugees remain at risk inside Turkey, the IRC’s work is more critical than ever. We pledge to put the needs of those most affected by crisis at the forefront of our efforts and to achieve measurable improvements in safety and education. Here’s a closer look at some of the work we will be doing over the next few years to achieve our goals.

We will continue to support refugees who have been forced from their homes, as well as vulnerable host communities.


People should be safe in their communities and receive support when they experience harm. The IRC will provide recovery services for survivors of abuse and trauma at a new Women and Girls’ Community Centre.

To improve awareness of our protection services, we will also conduct outreach, provide rights trainings and refer clients to local services.


School-aged children should have age-appropriate literacy, numeracy, and social and emotional skills. To address the educational needs among refugees, the IRC will provide university exam prep and social support for Syrian youth struggling to adapt in Turkey. We will work to ensure that Syrian children residing in urban areas have access to basic education and special services to catch up to their age-appropriate level.

With a commitment to gender equality, the IRC will also offer language and computer skills classes tailored for women.

As in all our efforts, the IRC will strive to reach more people more quickly, increase the effectiveness of our work, listen to the concerns of those affected by our work, and hold ourselves accountable for results.

Download the IRC's Turkey strategy action plan to learn more about our programme priorities until 2020.

News and features