Turkey hosts more than 3.1 million registered refugees whom only approximately 275,000 are residing in formal camps. Outside of camp settings, several cities in Turkey are absorbing and accommodating high numbers of refugees which struggle linking these populations to essential health, social and education services. Among these are Izmir, where an estimated 150,000 refugees live in their majority in informal settlements, and Istanbul, with an estimated population of 350,000 Syrian refugees, half under 18 years of age.

Number of refugees living in Turkey:

among them 2.7 million are registered as Syrian refugees

Waha’s action

WAHA has been present in Turkey since January 2016 implementing activities in Istanbul, Izmir and Gaziantep.

WAHA works closely with local civil society organizations in service provision and raising community awareness of the services available. Our partnership with the Syrian/Turkish NGO “Relief Society of Syrian Refugees” (Izmirde Suriyeli Mültecilerle Dayanışma Derneği) ensures our targeted support in Izmir and allows access to their extensive network within the Syrian community.


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Turkey - Eng

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Izmir - Turkey Eng: 38.423734, 27.142826
Istanbul - Turkey Eng: 41.008238, 28.978359
Gaziantep - Turkey Eng: 37.083330, 37.333330


Social and Medical Counselling Center

In March 2016, WAHA opened a social and medical center for Syrian refugees in the Basmane neighborhood of Izmir. The center provides health counseling, psychological care and social support for women and children while also facilitating access to existing support services and fostering the refugees’ overall integration into Turkey.

The center provides sexual and reproductive health counseling for women as well as pediatric examination for children. Turkish language classes, social and legal support is provided as well. Translators accompany women and children to the hospital to ensure better access to services and understanding of diagnosis. Activities for children are regularly organized such as drawing and painting lessons, recycling workshops and homework assistance. The free services are promoted through community outreach programs.

Gender-based Violence

Women make up over 50% of the Syrian refugee population in Turkey and are at a high risk of violence that is aggravated by their displacement. WAHA has carried out research to explore the use of mobile phone-technology to address gender-based violence among the refugee population, particularly with adolescents. The aim of the research is to better understand the risks of violence for Syrian refugees and to increase reporting and response of GBV cases.

In our social and medical center, GBV identification is at the core of our activities. Our social worker, psychologist and mid-wife are particularly attentive to this issue. Different sessions for women and girls are being organized to raise awareness and a psychologist offers individual and group therapy. We coordinate referral to specialized support with local NGOs and other actors.

Teacher Training on Child Protection

To enhance child protection within school settings, we are training teachers as trainers-of-trainers to increase their student’s awareness of child protection issues and to encourage the reporting of exploitation and violence to our community centers in order to ensure that cases of child abuse will be managed and directed to locally available support services as needed.

Medical Screening

In May 2016, WAHA launched a health screening campaign for children and families in impoverished communities of Izmir as well as in informal camps around the city. A pediatrician is conducting the screening on a daily basis and ensuring the follow-up of families over the course of weekly community visits.


Social and Medical Counselling Center

In July 2017, WAHA opened a social and medical counselling center for Syrian refugees in Istanbul. The activities of the center are similar to those carried out at the Izmir center.

School-based care:

In 2017, WAHA worked with 20 schools for Syrian students in Istanbul and provided school-based medical aid and training for teachers. Medical team diagnosed and referred students in requiring care, give scheduled immunizations and provide hygiene kits filled with toothbrushes, toothpastes and other toiletries. We conducted training sessions for teachers on hygiene. 

Training sessions for teachers in Izmir and Istanbul on children rights and identification and referral of children who are in danger of or experience abuse, complete our school-based activities.


In Gaziantep WAHA has established an office to design, develop, and implement activities to respond to the social, healthcare and GBV response needs of Syrian refugees in the region.

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