© Anna Surinyach


Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world

Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population, over 3.7 million people.

Turkey operations map 2017Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population, more than 3.7 million people. Around 94 percent of Syrian refugees in Turkey live outside of refugee camps and have limited access to basic services.

MSF first began work in Turkey in 1999. Between 1999 and 2016, we responded to natural disasters, such as the 2011 earthquake, and provided healthcare for refugees and migrants. From June 2016, MSF was no longer authorised to operate directly in Turkey.

However, since 2017 we have provided financial and technical support to local NGOs working with Syrian refugees. MSF also gave remote support to medical staff in Syria.

For up-to-date information on our work in Turkey, follow @MSF_Turkiye on Twitter.

© Diala Ghassan/MSF

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MSF’s work in Turkey: 2017

MSF supported organisations in three locations; in Istanbul, and in Sanliurfa and Kilis on the Turkey-Syria border. The projects we support range from primary healthcare to counselling sessions and child vaccination campaigns, and focus on caring for refugee communities.

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In Şanliurfa city, MSF helped Support to Life, which held 1,805 individual and 95 group counselling sessions in 2017. As well as counselling sessions, Support to Life also provides psycho-education for children and people with physical disabilities. Outreach workers visited more than 1,000 households over 2017.

MSF also worked with Metider to provide over 36,000 hospital translation sessions to allow Syrian patients to communicate with medical staff. The team participated in a government-initiated vaccination campaign, vaccinating over 14,000 children under the age of five.

In Akcakale, a town in Şanliurfa province, MSF helped the International Blue Crescent Foundation (IBC) run a psychosocial support programme. In 2017, they held 2,262 individual and 205 group counselling sessions. IBC also organised 3,958 home visits as part of its outreach activities and helped refugees improve their language, IT and handicraft skills.


MSF supported a Citizens’ Assembly programme in Kilis, which provided primary healthcare, mental healthcare and psychosocial support services to Syrian refugees.

In 2017, 17,660 medical consultations and 4,737 individual counselling and psychological support sessions were conducted. The team also ran 3,884 group psycho-education sessions and 913 family counselling and psychological support sessions. Two hundred and sixty-eight people were referred to psychiatric services.


In Istanbul, MSF supported the Nefes Centre, which is also run by Citizens’ Assembly. In 2017, they offered support and advisory services for migrants and refugees who had suffered ill-treatment.

Find out more in the MSF International Activity Report 2017.

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