© Diala Ghassan/MSF


Not authorised to operate directly in Turkey since June 2016, in 2017 MSF provided financial and technical support to local NGOs working with Syrian refugees.

Turkey is a richly historical country which has, for centuries, bridged east and west.

Home to more than 79 million people, modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa Kemal. He was later honoured with the title Ataturk, or ‘Father of the Turks’.

Under his leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging social, legal, and political reforms.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders first worked in Turkey in 1999. Since then, we have responded to natural disasters, such as the 2011 earthquake, and provided healthcare for refugees and migrants.

Today, MSF is supporting civil society organisations who are working with Syrian refugees.

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MSF’s work in Turkey: 2017

Turkey continues to host the world’s largest refugee population, with more than 3.7 million currently living in the country. Around 94 per cent of Syrian refugees in Turkey live outside camps and have limited access to basic services.


In 2017, MSF supported Support to Life (STL), which provided 1,805 individual and 95 group counselling sessions, ran psychoeducation sessions in kindergartens and for people with physical disabilities in their homes. Outreach workers visited more than 1,000 households.

© Diala Ghassan/MSF

MSF supported Metider (Association for Protecting and Improving the Rights of Seasonal Agricultural Workers) in providing translation services in hospitals to help Syrian patients communicate with medical staff through 36,049 translation sessions. The team also participated in a government-initiated vaccination campaign, vaccinating over 14,000 children up to the age of five.

MSF helped the International Blue Crescent Foundation (IBC) run a psychosocial support programme in Akcakale, a province of Sanliurfa, where 2,262 individual and 205 group counselling sessions were conducted. IBC also organised 3,958 home visits as part of its outreach activities and helped refugees improve their language, IT and handicrafts skills. 

Kilis and Istanbul

An MSF-supported programme in Kilis, conducted by Citizens’ Assembly, provided primary healthcare, mental healthcare and psychosocial support services to Syrian refugees.

A total of 17,660 medical consultations and 4,737 individual counselling and psychological support sessions were conducted. In addition, the team ran 3,884 psycho-education group sessions and 913 family counselling and psychological support sessions, and 268 people were referred to psychiatric services.

The Nefes centre in Istanbul, which is also run by Citizens’ Assembly, offered support and advisory services for migrants and refugees who had suffered ill-treatment.

find out more in our international activity report >

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