Protection and Self-Reliance
Enabling dignity in urban displacement and informal camps
Turkey-Syria Earthquake Relief & Livelihoods: Refugee Protection International and community-led partners are assisting over 21,093 earthquake survivors in Syria (Idlib, Aleppo regions) and Turkey (Kahramanmaras, Antakya, Reyhanli, Gaziantep regions). 12,874 persons are receiving emergency food aid or winter clothing, of which 10,025 have already benefited. This is done through RPI’s Turkish-Syrian partners Kids Paradise and Olive Branch NGO, building on years of joint support for war-torn Syria and neighboring Turkey. RPI sells crafts made by displaced women trained in joint self-reliance projects. Earthquake aid is going to Syrian and Turkish survivors. Funding is needed to scale psychosocial and mental health support, aid to bakeries, and relief distribution. Donate here.
In 2019, RPI co-designed a self-reliance program with Kids Paradise that included psychosocial support (PSS) for widowed and vulnerable women in our joint livelihoods skills training program. In Antakya, our partner’s psychiatrist provided individual mental health support and referrals to hospitals. This program also provides PSS to the women’s children during child care provided free-of-cost to women enrolled in the skills training program. We are also fundraising to expand mobile PSS for quake survivors in northwest Syria with RPI’s Turkish-Syrian partner HIA.
RPI has sold nearly $100,000 worth of primarily refugee-made products in this program, as well as some donated crafts from 60 artists around the globe. This humanitarian cash-for-work program supports women’s income and training stipends with community-based partners Kids Paradise, Multi Aid Programs, and URDA. In Lebanon, the program also supports non-formal primary education by partner MAPS for children in the Syrian refugee camps.
Ukraine: RPI helps Ukrainian civilians escape war’s southeastern frontlines in Mykolaiv, Kherson, rural Zaporizhzhia region, and further east. RPI procures and delivers minibuses and large vehicles to assist its Ukrainian charity partners to launch or expand civilian evacuations. In many cases, RPI also supports relief items and fuel. Evacuations are critical. RPI has seen firsthand the medical consequences for children unable to flee occupied villages. Challenges include war-damaged vehicles, Russian military checkpoints, active hostilities, access to affordable diesel, and fear.
By August, 2022 this program had already evacuated some 2,000+ Ukrainian civilians to the borders of Moldava and Romania. Beginning in March 2022, RPI also helped coordinate and fully fund the medical evacuations of 53 surrogate infants from central Ukraine to their foreign biological parents on the western border with Romania. This initiative was coordinated with the key involvement of Ukrainian partners BioTexCom, Dobrobut Medical Center, whose nursing team and daring drivers made the evacuation runs, the receiving Chernivtsi Regional Clinical Hospital, and with Romanian consular authorities, who helped parents secure the birth certificates and travel documents needed for the infants to cross the border. NBC Boston, CBS Channel 4, Belmont TV, and NewsNation’s Morning in America Show covered these evacuation efforts.
RPI remains deeply concerned for the emotional well-being of Ukraine’s children. RPI has visited pediatric inpatients being treated for PTSD, panic disorders, and general anxiety due to the war. Some had sheltered underground as their evacuation train was shelled, killing its conductor. Others heard relentless explosions and shelling in the devastated cities of southeastern Ukraine. Add to this the stress of displacement, continued air raid sirens, and frequent separation from family members, and the situation is dire. RPI will support Ukrainian charities and hospitals to deliver psychosocial and psychiatric support to children and youth.
Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon: Since late 2015, RPI has also helped to address the protection crises experienced by Syrian civilians. Inside Syria, children have experienced relentless exposure to aerial bombardment and shelling and loss of loved ones. In neighboring countries, Syrian refugees have fled to urban centers or informal settlements to earn a livelihood. Yet, too often they lack the civil documentation, skills training, and support needed to access decent work, housing, and public services, leaving children at risk of child labor, early marriage, and mental health issues. In Sanliurfa, Turkey, RPI co-designed the partner-run 2-year counseling, case management and legal awareness program for Syrian refugees in need of temporary protection documentation and other support in order to access host country services. RPI co-designed launched a similar partner-run program in Lebanon that assisted Syrian refugee children born in Lebanon to obtain a legal status, e.g. 4-step birth certificate, and better access education and health services. RPI has also enabled partner-run psychosocial support (PSS) and mental health care in Antakya, Turkey and PSS in Syria.
In sum, RPI and its grassroots partners have met 23,656 protection and self-reliance needs by:
- Launching and supporting civilian evacuations from areas of active hostility in Ukraine
- Delivering food aid and relief items to displaced orphans, children with disabilities, IDP hostels, frontline villages, and border reception areas in Ukraine
- Counseling and financially aiding Syrian refugees in Lebanon to complete birth registration to facilitate access to schools and advanced health care
- Providing displaced Syrian children with psychosocial support and individual mental health sessions or referrals to psychologists in Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria
- Supporting the income-generation capacity of female-headed refugee households and victims of violence
- Providing transitional housing, protection, and other social support to vulnerable refugee women and children
- Providing psychosocial support to refugee women and civilians affected by the Beirut explosion in August 2020
- Providing Syrian refugees in Turkey with guidance on documentation procedures and referrals to service providers to legitimize and support their stay
- Providing individual case management: interpretation/translation, accompaniment to service providers, and support with completing application forms
- Encouraging collaboration among our local partners and other nonprofit, private sector, and municipal stakeholders
- Planning for post-conflict information and counseling on housing, land, and property restitution and reparation
Counseling and Case Management
6,785 Syrians in Turkey received consultations on how to access documentation (temporary protection; work permits through employers) and job-seeking, medical, legal, relief, and educational services. 220 Syrian refugees in Lebanon were supported with birth registration.
Supporting Mental Health
Over 1,021 refugees, IDPs, and locals have participated in psychosocial support or individual mental health programming in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.
Strengthening Livelihoods that Give Back
8,949 displaced Syrians in Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria received goods or services as a result of vocational/livelihoods skills training, materials, and distribution support provided to 434 refugees and IDPs in teaching, first aid, nursing, psychosocial support, soap/toy/packaging production, sewing, and the use of eco-friendly heating/cooking fuel. In addition, 3,050 refugees received intensive language training in host countries and 647 children in Syria received winter clothing.