Istanbul by night

Turkey Mastering the challenge of displacement together

Turkey is an important link between Europe and Asia, as well as with the Islamic world. It is regarded as an emerging country, with an economy that has shown very dynamic performance over the past few years. Turkey also plays an important geopolitical role, since it borders on several regions that are prone to tensions, such as the Balkans, the Caucasus Region as well as the Near and Middle East.

Straight to
Garland with small flags of Turkey
Germany's development cooperation with Turkey began in 1958 and came to an end with a last commitment in 2008.

Currently, Germany helps Turkey cope with the refugees streaming into the country to escape the war in Syria.

However, there are no plans to resume a regular programme of bilateral development cooperation.

German activities Education and employment

The German government has provided some 834 million euros since 2015 to support Turkey in giving shelter to Syrian refugees. Around 217 million euros of this amount are humanitarian aid, provided by Germany's Federal Foreign Office. Since 2015, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has provided around 617 million euros in total for structure-building activities to help support Syrian refugees and Turkish communities which have taken in refugees.

Teacher and students in the UNICEF school in Adana

Teacher and students in the UNICEF school in Adana

Teacher and students in the UNICEF school in Adana

School education and vocational education

The BMZ focuses its interventions to support refugees and hosting communities on the areas of school education and vocational education and training, on employment promotion, and on strengthening social cohesion. For instance, efforts are being made to provide education so that there is no “lost generation” of Syrian refugee children – in other words, a generation of Syrian children who have known nothing but war and have so little education that they have virtually no prospect of a decent life. It is hoped that offering youngsters educational opportunities will also prevent them from becoming radicalised.

Violence prevention and social exchange are crosscutting issues of the BMZ’s activities. The fact that both the refugees and Turkish host communities benefit from the interventions helps to strengthen the exchange between the groups and prevent ill will.

Vocational education and training and measures to build professional skills serve as a launchpad into working life and a life that is independent of external support. Since mid-2016, opportunities for employment in the short and the long term are being created as part of the Partnership for Prospects so as to ensure that families can provide for themselves and have a viable option to stay in their home country. One of the BMZ's most important partners in implementing these activities is the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF.

Jobs campaign

The employment promotion programmes supported by Germany are directed not only at refugees but also at locals who are finding it difficult to find a job because of the inflow of refugees. For instance, under “cash-for-work” programmes people can earn a quick income by taking on basic tasks in their communities such as helping with repairs, waste disposal or the maintenance of public buildings and green spaces.

Other employment promotion programmes help to fund wages or salaries, in particular for additional teaching staff. Employment promotion measures helped to create some 21,000 jobs in 2020 (a total of 97,570 jobs has been created since the start of the programme in 2016) and education has been provided for almost 350,000 children.

Activities involving the EU

In addition to the German government's bilateral activities in Turkey, Germany is also involved in the European activities being carried out under the action plan agreed by the EU and Turkey in November 2015 and under the EU-Turkey statement issued in March 2016. The measures are being coordinated closely in order to avoid duplicate structures and to ensure added value.

The Federal Republic of Germany is contributing to the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey, and is a member of the group coordinating the measures agreed between the European Union and Turkey.

School children in a refugee camp in Turkey

Education programme promoting school enrolment and leisure activities Internal link

More than half of the Syrian refugees in Turkey are children and young people. Some 40 per cent of these youngsters have no opportunity to attend regular school classes. This means they are deprived of the opportunity to return to a normal daily routine and develop new hope for the future.

Street scene in Öncüpinar at the Turkish-Syrian border

Community centres to improve social cohesion Internal link

The majority of Syrian refugees in Turkey live outside the official camps, mostly in towns and villages in the south-east of the country. Local and international non-governmental organisations have set up community centres there offering educational activities as well as advisory and support services to the refugees.

Current situation

Garland with small flags of Turkey

Presidential powers greatly increased Internal link

In order to prepare for the desired accession to the European Union, the Turkish government began in 2002 to introduce numerous reform steps with regard to the rule of law and the respect for human rights. However, under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's presidency these reform-oriented policies have stalled.

Syrian refugees in a camp in Nizip, Turkey

Turkey takes in millions of refugees Internal link

The crisis in Syria has been influencing Turkey's domestic and foreign policies for some time now. A number of terrorist attacks and violent incidents along the country's borders are evidence that the conflict is having a direct impact on Turkey's security.

As at: 11/08/2021