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FAO, Turkey continue efforts to train Syrian refugees for success abroad

The civil war in Syria is now in its ninth year, and in that time the number of refugees hosted by Turkey has surpassed 3.6 million.

Most of the Syrian refugees are able to live in host communities with support from families or friends. But given high living costs and refugees’ lack of access to regular income, many of them have had to endure cuts in food consumption, health and education.

Despite the generous efforts of the Turkish Government, both at central and provincial level, support from the international community is required to ensure decent living conditions, work opportunities and protection to the millions of refugees in Turkey.

In this regard, FAO has conducted several assessments to better understand the profile of Syrian refugees in Turkey. These assessments have revealed that the agriculture and food sector provides the main source of income for the majority of the population hosting Syrian refugees, particularly for the vulnerable ones living in Turkey’s rural areas. The results also indicate that Turkey is undergoing a shortage in its skilled labour force and that there is high demand for skilled and semi-skilled labour.

This provides an opportunity for Syrian refugees who have not previously worked in agriculture to obtain agricultural skills and gain hands-on experience, helping them generate regular income through employment.

With this in mind, for the past two years FAO has been implementing the “Increase Self-Reliance and Improve Agricultural Livelihoods of Refugees through Employment Opportunities” project in partnership with local producer unions and with Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and its provincial directorates. FAO organized vocational trainings and job fairs in Adana, Mersin, Gaziantep, İzmir, Isparta, Kilis, Mardin and Şanlıurfa provinces, helping more than 2 000 people receive trainings. As a result of this effort, almost 22 percent of the trainees have received employment through job fairs.

The third phase of the project was launched in Bursa on 22 May 2019. This phase is co-financed by the European Union and the Republic of Turkey and implemented in close collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Directorate General of Migration Management of Turkey, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services of Turkey, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey.

During the third phase, work will be undertaken in Turkey’s Adana, Bursa, Gaziantep, İzmir, Manisa, Mardin, Mersin and Şanlıurfa provinces, providing vocational and on-the-job training to 815 refugees in such areas as baking, vegetable crop production, greenhouse vegetable production, fruit tree production and management, pepper crop production, citrus crop management, cattle care and herd management, fruit seedling production, harvest and post-harvest processing of fruit crops, small ruminant care and management, tomato crop production, and grafting, pruning and harvesting of pistachio and olive trees. After the training, job fairs will be organized in each province to place the beneficiaries into jobs.

Duha Abdullah Alkarem, a Syrian refugee who has taken part in the project, has been living in Turkey with the host community for nearly seven years. During a speech at the launch of the third phase of the project, she said that she is still learning to live in Bursa and needs a job to continue her life. Syrians have worked in many different areas, she said, but they do not know how to use this knowledge. The trainings under this programme will help her become an expert in a single area. She will be studying bread production, and she believes that obtaining a training certificate will help her find a sustainable job. Not only will the training help her understand how to bake bread, she said, but she also will be able to observe the lifestyle and traditions of Turkish people and create connections with the host community.

31 May 2019, Ankara, Turkey

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