Caritas Turkey


Refugee Department

  1. The situation of Iraqi refugees in Turkey

At the beginning of year 2004 there was a decline in the number of Iraqis arriving in Turkey compared to the period before war. This was because of the closure of the borders between Iraq and Turkey.
However, since the beginning of July 2004, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of new comers. In the second half of 2004, the number of files registered with Caritas is 227 most of whom are families and widows, but among them are also a few singles. During 2004 we opened 328 files at Caritas in total. These people are generally coming from Baghdad and Mousel.
There are many different stories of threat or persecution that Iraqi asylum seekers have faced in Iraq. However, briefly, the main reason of fleeing their country is the insecure conditions. After fall of Saddam, the stories were mostly about life threats and kidnaps or attacks to the work places. Recently, we have been receiving many people who have lost their family members by direct attacks sometimes even without any threats.

  1. The regular assistance of Caritas Turkey:


    1. Counseling Service:

      Main targets are to provide information, give advice and guide the migrants, asylum seekers or refugees regarding their needs. This service also provides a reliable source of information and opportunity to discuss the various legal options that may exist for the client. We have received 328 new comer cases, which makes approximately 1312 people in 2004 and we opened files for each case. Apart from that, we have already had 212 cases. In percentage, % 21 of the cases are couples, % 10 singles, % 3 widows and % 66 are children.
      Total budget of the program has been 33.126,95 Euros with Caritas Germany’s support.

    2. Follow up:

      1764 files have been for different reasons at least two times with the Embassies’, IOM, UNHCR and other organizations during 2004.
      Among the number mentioned above % 18 were about the processed cases at the Canada Embassy, % 10 at the Australian Embassy, % 4 at IOM, % 4 at ICMC, % 5 at UNHCR. % 33 of these people came for health assistance. % 19 are the new comers who came to our office for registration to Caritas. The rest came for other reasons.
      Typically, Caritas follows up the cases of the Iraqis in regular contact with the host countries’ Embassies and UNHCR, providing additional information if required. As usual, we offer a place for interviews of the Canadian and Australian Embassies and to the UNHCR Social Counselling Program when required. As the Embassies’ headquarters are in Ankara, it is for the benefit of our beneficiaries to be interviewed in Istanbul due to their illegal status in Turkey and not to travel to Ankara.
      Caritas Turkey Refugee Service is the postal address that is given to UNHCR, Australian & Canadian Embassies, IOM, ICMC and to the sponsors in Australia and Canada by Iraqi applicants. We receive any information about their process by the Embassies, UNHCR, IOM and ICMC and also receive their envelopes. We have been working for years with the mentioned organizations and built up a mutual confidence.
      This year, Caritas reported 17 Iraqi families to UNHCR Social Counselling Program coordinator whose housing conditions are very bad and need financial aid. 6 families were interviewed and only 2 families got the one time financial assistance from UNHCR. Five asylum seekers are attending to psychological counselling from Caritas at UHNCR Social Counselling Program and 437 Iraqi cases correspondent to 1912 individuals registered with UNHCR through this Program and are waiting to get a registration interview from UNHCR Ankara.
      Australian Embassy Visa Process
      In December 2004, 33 cases corresponding to 150 people were interviewed and got approval. In 2004, the approval rate of SHP was % 6.
      Canadian Embassy Visa Process
      In 2004, 52 Iraqi cases were interviewed and all of them received preliminary approvals. There is also a previously accepted group that are still waiting for their visa to depart.
      International Organisation for Migrants (IOM)
      International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) is arranging the departures of Iraqis and has a good co-operation with the police controls at the airports. Most of the Iraqis with the third country visas or travel documents are travelling through the guidance of this organisation.

    3. Exceptional Aid:

      One of the biggest problems that migrants face in Turkey is unemployment, apart from the police fear because of their illegal status in Turkey. Due to the high penalty charges for hiring an illegal employee, it is very hard to find a job for Iraqis in Turkey. Even if they find a job, it is most common that they work for a subsistence wage that hardly covers their accommodation expense and food. To most of the people who approached to Caritas for financial assistance, we gave coupons of 50 million Turkish Lira. These are coupons to be used in the shopping centres to buy some basic foods or other basic needs. We distributed 45 coupons until 12.10.2004.
      During 2004, as exceptional assistances, we provided bus tickets for 7 families and one single for travels to Ankara for UNHCR interviews, a bus ticket for one person to Silopi, and one Sri Lankan women bus ticket to the Sri Lankan Embassy to get a valid passport; we also paid electricity bill of two families, water bill of one family, house rent of two families; bought medicines for 6 families; gave for one African women medical consultation fee; bought telephone cards for a person in detention; contributed to the funeral of two families.
      The total budget of this service has been 2.718,94 Euros with Caritas Germany’s support.

    4. Urgent Medical Aid:

      The dispensary accepted 183 people and Saint George Hospital accepted 398 Iraqi patients. 253 new comer Iraqi families asked for urgent medical aid correspondent to 1001 people.
      322 Iraqis were examined at the Saint George Hospital and the reasons of the applicants in percentages are as follows:
      30% internal examination
      20 % Paediatric examination
      23% gynaecologic and ophthalmic examination
      27 % Orthopaedic, dermatologic, otorhinolaryngologic, dental examination
      Apart from the high numbers of consultation, analyses, X-ray, USG services given, 3 Iraqis applied for operation and 10 others were hospitalized at Saint George Hospital for several reasons.
      If we were to state the reasons of the people applying to the Saint Benoit Dispensary in percentages, it would be as follows:
      32 % dental examination
      26 % medicine registration
      22 % ophthalmic & gynaecologic examination
      20 % for other treatments

      The Austrian Catholic Community is giving papers for consultation which is free of charge once a week at Saint George Hospital. We provide health assistancy with the help of our Iraqi colleague who is working for us as a translator at Saint George Hospital and at Saint Benoit Dispensary. We feel ourselves very lucky to have precious colleagues at Saint George, Saint Benoit and also lucky to work with the Austrian Community.
      Total budget has been 19.222.20 Euros with Caritas Switzerland’s support.

    5. The Cloakroom:

      The cloakroom has received 278 Iraqi families correspondent to 1337 people. Basically clothing, 200 blankets, shoes, underwear and house equipments have been distributed by our volunteer twice a week. We are grateful to our volunteer’s efforts in distributing the clothing and equipments.

    6. Education Program

      The education program and weekend activities for Iraqi children is run by the Salesian Community who have dedicated their life to the education of youth and children. They provide all the supplies needed and the salaries of the teachers in 2004. The education program offers classes in English language, Mathematics, Sports, Native Language, Art and Music. There are 11 Iraqi teachers. The program’s functional expenses have been financed by Caritas Ambrosiana for two years. The total cost has been 5.391,02 Euros with Caritas Ambrosiana’s support.
      In summer time, the activities arranged by the Salesian Community continue. Five different groups of 34 children with seven volunteers are taken to one of the Princess Islands for a week for camping. Besides, from mid-June till the end of August, four hours every day social activities for the Iraqi children took place such as singing songs, playing games and sketch performings in the Vatican Embassy territory.

    7. Vaccination:

      During 2004-2005 education terms, we started making the blood tests and consultations of 100 new Iraqi students, who weren’t vaccinated in the previous year. The Austrian Community has also contributed to the vaccination bills and consultation expenses.
      According to our pediatrician in Saint George hospital the necessary vaccines are as follows:
      POLIO: for all children (twice),
      DIPHTERIA-TETANUS AND PERT USES: 6 years old children and below (twice)
      DIPHTERIA-TETANUS: 7 years old and above (twice)
      MEASLES & MUMPS & RUBELLA: no age limit, except the ones who passed the diseases.
      HEPATITIS B: no age limit

      We would like to take the chance herewith to express our gratitude once more to Caritas Germany and the Austrian Community for their contributions.
      The total cost has been 3.787,09 Euros with Caritas Germany’s support.

    8. House visits:

      The aim is to see the housing circumstances of the Iraqi families and assist them accordingly. Within the last six months, we have visited 90 Iraqi families’ houses. According to the circumstances of the houses and living conditions, we have given 60 coupons to the Iraqi families who are really in need. Upon to the need, we have bought their medicines or tried to find them jobs.

    As the Refugee Service our target always has been to reach out all the Iraqi refugees, to meet their needs though partially, and to guide them. We could never have been able to achieve these without the valuable contributions of our donors. We express our gratitude to each of them.

    Tülin Türkcan
    Refugee Service Responsible
    Caritas Turkey