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Evaluation of UNHCR's Livelihoods Strategies and Approaches (2014-2018) - Turkey Case Study, Final Report, December 2018

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Introduction of country context

  • This Turkey case study report is part of the global evaluation of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) livelihood strategy. The centralized evaluation was commissioned by the UNHCR Evaluation Service and independently conducted by Technical Assistance to NonGovernmental Organizations (TANGO) International. The overarching purpose of this evaluation is to gather strategic and timely evidence on the effectiveness of refugee livelihoods programming from 2014-2018. The evaluation will inform organizational strategy and practice within UNHCR and external to UNHCR with partners, aiming to improve the economic inclusion of refugees and other people of concern (PoC). See the full evaluation report for the overall findings and recommendations.
  • Country context: The Republic of Turkey has faced a major refugee influx for nearly a decade resulting from unrelenting conflicts, insecurity, and humanitarian crises across their borders with Syria and Iraq. In recent years Turkey has hosted the largest number of refugees in the world, currently at 3,567,658 (as of 27 September 2018), which is 63 per cent of the total number of registered Syrian refugees and significantly surpasses any other country. Other PoC hosted by Turkey include: 169,000 persons from Afghanistan, 145,000 from Iraq, 35,000 from Iran, and 4,500 from Somalia, among 10,500 of other nationalities.2 Of all PoC in Turkey, two million are people of working age (18-59 years).
  • Turkey’s macroeconomic achievements are being tested by both domestic challenges and the deteriorating geopolitical environment, including the Syria crisis, which has negatively impacted exports, investment, and growth.3 Turkey is an upper-middle-income country with a population of over 80 million. Economic growth in Turkey peaked in 2015 at over six per cent per year, but declined to just under three per cent in 2016 after the failed coup attempt; at the same time, tourism declined sharply, and unemployment and inflation have steadily increased. The service sector was the largest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) (61 per cent) in 2017, the industry sector added 32 per cent, and agriculture seven per cent. Manufacturing comprises the vast majority of Turkey’s exports.
  • Turkey is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol, yet maintains the geographical limitation to the 1951 Convention. 5,6 Since the start of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has been working on various legislative and institutional reforms to ensure their national asylum system is in compliance with international standards. In April 2013, Turkey’s Parliament endorsed its first asylum law.
    The Law established the main pillars of Turkey’s national asylum system and formed the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) to implement the system. Turkey also adopted the Temporary Protection Regulation in October 2014, which established the rights, obligations, and procedures for grantees of temporary protection. This is the legal framework by which DGMM registers and verifies Syrians under Temporary Protection, which then allows them access to public services through the various public authorities. There is a currently a parallel system, for Syrians and for people of other nationalities; Syrians receive temporary protection status on a prima facie or group basis, whereas people from other countries of origin must apply for international protection status as individuals and are subject to status determination by DGMM.
  • In January 2016, a significant change was made by the Government of Turkey (GoT) to promote refugee livelihoods and self-reliance, adopting the Regulation on Work Permits of Refugees Under Temporary Protection. These work permits apply to formal employment only and must be renewed every year. Thus, Syrians under temporary protection are not allowed to work independently or to be employed without a legally issued work permit. If this is violated, the employer or PoC (if working independently) is fined, with increases in the fine and eventual workplace closure with repeat offenses. In addition, in any given workplace, the number of employed refugees cannot exceed 10 per cent of the employed Turkish citizens unless the employer receives special permission because the vacant jobs could not be filled by Turks. The work permit requirements are similar for asylum seekers of other nationalities who are applicants for international protection.
  • Programme overview: The UNHCR Turkey operating level (OL) livelihoods budget dramatically increased from US$ 944,667 in 2015 to $11.8 million in 2017, with a decline to $6.5 million for 2018. Still, it is the second largest UNHCR livelihood programme in the world, after Syria. UNHCR’s underlying strategy for livelihood and self-reliance is three-pronged: i) institutional, legal, and administrative enabling environment, ii) the capacity and skills of refugees, and iii) the economic capacity and potential of local labour markets to absorb refugee labour. The livelihood intervention priorities include: --Enhancing capacities of national systems and increased cooperation; -- Increasing access to skills, language, and vocational training according to market demands and individual interest; -- Increasing refugee access to information and services leading to employment; and -- Facilitating and strengthening access to enterprise development, and greater market access.
  • The UNHCR Turkey livelihoods team has designed and monitored projects of nine implementing partners. The interventions include language and vocational trainings, entrepreneurship start up and development, apprenticeship and job placement, youth social cohesion activities, and employmentrelated awareness raising. The implementing partners include international NGOs, national NGOs, municipality and chamber of commerce partners, and United Nations agencies. In 2018 there are eight partners receiving direct funding or in-kind funding (equipment or staffing) from UNHCR: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ACTED, CONCERN, YUVA, Habitat, Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce, Support to Life, and Turkish Red Crescent.
  • UNHCR Turkey collaborates with the GoT to ensure inclusion of PoC into national systems. This does not include direct funding; instead, UNHCR provides trainings, tools, equipment, and staffing support, in addition to advocacy and technical advising. These GoT partnerships include: -- Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Service (MoFLSS), for work permits, advocacy, joint awareness raising with private sector, registering PoC job seekers in national database, capacity strengthening of their staff (including ISKUR, employment agency staff/job counsellors trained across 81 provinces); -- Ministry of Customs and Trade (MoCT), to support small business; -- Vocational Qualifications Authority (VQA), for certification of PoC skills, and translation of qualifications standards into Arabic; -- Ministry of National Education (MoNE), for improvement of the capacity of Public Education Centres by subsidizing teachers and providing technical equipment for vocational trainings; -- Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoAF), who provides training and agricultural job placement support for the joint programme with FAO; -- and partnerships with numerous municipalities, governorates and sub-governorates for awareness raising on work permits, and in some locations, supporting their implementation of language and vocational training programmes including PoC.
  • Finally, the programme actively collaborates with private sector, including multinational companies and their supply chains (e.g., H&M, Puma, Adidas, Tesco, and many others), Turkish companies, organized industrial zones, Fair Labour Association (FLA), chambers of commerce, and business associations.15 UNHCR provides the private sector with information on labour regulations and hiring refugees, and provides support in the work permit application process.
  • According to the August 2018 Turkey livelihoods factsheet on achievements, the programme has supported over 3,000 refugees to participate in entrepreneurship trainings and over 100 Syrians have licensed their businesses since 2016; additionally, over 300 government employment agency (ISKUR) staff have received capacity building support to provide job counselling/matching support to refugees.