Article 81(3) LFIP states that international protection applicants and status holders are free to seek counselling services provided by NGOs.
The UNHCR Counselling Line provides counselling on registration procedures, referrals and existing support mechanisms, specifically resettlement, financial assistance and assistance for persons with specific needs.. In 2020 the UNHCR counselling line increased to 42 operators in June 2020. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, financial assistance-related inquires increased from a pre-COVID average of 8% of total inquiries to 25%. In September, UNHCR implemented a specific gender-based violence (GBV) line for individuals at risk of, or survivors of, GBV, providing both a recorded message on reporting and supporting mechanisms and available support channels and services as well as GBV counselling through specialised operators. Between September and December 2020, close to 4,000 calls were received and counselling was provided through the GBV counselling line.
UNHCR regularly published up-to-date information posts in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and English, on the UNHCR Turkey Information Board on Facebook using posters, announcements, videos and Q&As. The Facebook information page reached approximately 79,500 new likes and 83,300 new followers in 2020. Some 330,000 COVID-19 related materials, produced by the Turkish Ministry of Health were printed and distributed to UNHCR field offices, partners, PDMM and the Ministry of Health premises across the country. UNHCR also supported DGMM with printed materials and videos in multiple languages on COVID-19 mitigation measures. UNHCR also set up a WhatsApp communication tree in March 2020 to facilitate rapid information-sharing between UNHCR and refugees. UNHCR Turkey also reached refugees through a bulk SMS initiatives and in total, 252,250 SMS were successfully sent in three months regarding various topics including an HES code video which was produced in Arabic and Farsi to assist refugee communities to access public institutions and services, as well as information about the Help webpage or dispelling of rumours and misinformation.
SGDD-ASAM, the largest NGO and implementing partner of UNHCR in Turkey, has offices in more than 40 provinces in Turkey and provides counselling and information services.
Other organisations such as Refugee Rights Turkey and International Refugee Rights Association in Istanbul and Mülteci-Der in Izmir have helplines and can be accessed by phone. Refugee Support Centre (Mülteci Destek Derneği, MUDEM) has presence in various provinces, while IKGV has different offices in Turkey and provides information and psycho-social support. Support to Life and YUVA are also mainstream organisations that are very active in the field, the former having a presence in eight cities.
Faith-based organisations are also very active in assistance to applicants, Türk Diyanet Vakfı, a state-funded faith agency based in Ankara targets mostly educated young Syrians and provides humanitarian aid, financial assistance and language classes. Insani Yardim Vakfı is another faith-based organisation active nearly in every province of Turkey.
There are also NGOs helping vulnerable groups such as KADAV and Women’s Solidarity Foundation for women in Istanbul and Ankara respectively, Kaos GL based in Ankara assists LGBTI people, as does Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association. Pozitif Yasam based in Istanbul assists people living with HIV, while Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Organisation has set up seven service units in five provinces for LGBTI persons, sex workers and people living with HIV in Turkey.
Moreover, international protection applicants may also access the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and NGOs carrying out resettlement-related activities, such as the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) in Istanbul.
In 2020 many NGOs stopped working or reduced their services to online services only due to COVID-19. People applied to them for psycho-social support and humanitarian aid but many only accepted documents electronically. People who are illiterate or who did not have internet access found it difficult to receive assistance. Since offices were closed, it was also difficult to identify and reach unaccompanied children. This affected relationships and trust as NGOs were an unknown caller on the phone and people did not always call back.
 UNHCR, Turkey 2019: Operational Highlights, 6 March 2020, at: http://bit.ly/3d0MsyY.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021.