The Effects of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Social Service-Providing Organizations in the Migration Sector in Turkey and the Digital Measures

The Effects of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Social Service-Providing Organizations in the Migration Sector in Turkey and the Digital Measures

Büşra Uslu Ak (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7772-1.ch013
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on everyone on the world since early 2020. The situation in Turkey is not different than the rest of the world. In the time of a pandemic, it is important, for everyone's safety, to identify ways to deliver social services without in-person contact; therefore, organizations must adopt models for remote and digitalized social service provision which can minimize risks to the health and safety of both for social service-receivers and providers. In this respect, this chapter has got three foci: the effects of COVID-19 outbreak on the social service-providing non-governmental organizations in the context of migration in Turkey, the needs of the asylum seekers as social service-receivers, and the digital measures of the non-governmental organizations in social service provision as a response to COVID-19 outbreak.
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COVID-19 is reported to be originated in Wuhan, China at the end of the year 2019. It soon spread across the world in a short time and was declared a “Pandemic” by the World Health Organization in March 2020. The COVID-19 Pandemic is still spreading worldwide and continues to have a direct impact on people’s health and wellbeing. The Pandemic has undoubtedly had a massive impact on everyone on the planet since the early beginning of 2020. Among the most vulnerable people in the society who are affected by the Pandemic have become the refugees and asylum-seekers who are already getting by under harsh conditions with limited access to various services (UNHCR, 2020). Many asylum seekers suffer from the effects of the Pandemic which further deepened their vulnerabilities. An extensive impact has been observed on the social service providing organizations and the lives of those they support because of the necessary restrictions and precautions (Turner, 2020). A devasting impact of the Pandemic has been on the daily lives of asylum seekers as well as the social services provided by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Turkey. Besides, a variety of NGOs have started to transform some services into remote services through digital means with the aim of minimizing this impact. Some of the NGOs have declared that they have initiated response programs and have applied measures to sustain their ongoing systems while some of them have stopped their activities until the end of the Pandemic.

To understand the migration context and the impact of COVID-19 Pandemic, it is thought that background information on current migration system of Turkey should hereby be introduced. Turkey is a country bridging between European countries with comprehensive welfare systems consisting of advanced social work practices and countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria where fundamental rights and freedoms are jeopardized, and armed conflict is ongoing. Due to the geographical location and requirements of the national and international law, Turkey hosts millions of refugees and asylum seekers from many countries.

More than 3,6 million Syrians and about 0,5 million of asylum seekers from other countries of origin are currently residing in Turkey according to the statistical data from the Ministry of Interior Affairs General Directorate of Migration Management (DGMM, 2021). It is thought that these numbers might be much higher since there are many persons of concern who are undocumented, therefore not included in the statistics.

The Syrians in Turkey have been uniquely granted Temporary Protection Status within the framework of the Temporary Protection Regulation since October 2014. Temporary Protection Regulation with the Council of Ministers (Decision No: 2014/6883) was published under the umbrella Law on Foreigners and International Protection. According to these law and regulation, Syrians under Temporary Protection can have access to basic services, including health care, education, livelihoods and social assistance. The asylum seekers from other countries are under International Protection status and they have similar rights in terms of access to the social services. Majority of the asylum seekers are living in host communities outside of the temporary accommodation centers (also known as refugee camps), especially in the south-east of Turkey and in large city centers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Services: Systematic and programmed services aimed at eliminating the material, moral and social deprivations of individuals and families arising from their own constitution and environmental conditions or occurring beyond their control and meeting their needs, preventing and solving their social problems and improving and raising their living standards.

Non-Governmental Organization: A non-profit group that functions independently of the government. sometimes called civil societies, are organized on community, national and international levels to serve a social or political goal such as humanitarian causes.

Pandemic: An epidemic of an infectious disease spreading across a large region or worldwide and affecting a substantial number of people.

Social Service-Provider: A person or an institution who offer social services for the persons in need of social services.

Vulnerability: The condition of susceptibility to harm resulting from developmental problems, personal incapacities, disadvantaged social status, inadequacy of interpersonal networks and supports, degraded environments, and the interactions of these factors over the life course.

Asylum-Seeker: An individual who is seeking protection from a country other than her/his country of origin.

Social Service-Receiver: An individual and/or group of individuals who receive social services in line with their needs and rights.

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