As with the LFIP, the TPR also contains definitions of “persons with special needs” and “unaccompanied children” and provides for additional guarantees. According to Article 3 TPR, “unaccompanied minors, persons with disability, elderly, pregnant women, single parents with accompanying children, victims of torture, sexual assault or other forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence” are to be categorised as “persons with special needs”.
The TPR and other related secondary legislation providing the legal framework and procedures for the provision of services to temporary protection beneficiaries identify the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services as the responsible authority for “persons with special needs”.
As provided by the AFAD Circular 2014/4 on “Administration of Services to Foreigners under the Temporary Protection Regime”, “services such as accommodation, care and oversight of unaccompanied minors, persons with disabilities and other persons with special needs are the responsibility of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services. The Ministry is responsible for the referral of vulnerable persons to children centres, women shelters or other appropriate places.”
Being identified and registered as a “person with special needs” entitles beneficiaries to additional safeguards and prioritised access to rights and services. They should be provided “health care services, psycho-social assistance, rehabilitation and other support and services free of charge and on priority basis, subject to the limitations of capacity.”
Unaccompanied children under temporary protection
Article 3 TPR defines an “unaccompanied minor” as “a child who arrives in Turkey without being accompanied by an adult who by law or custom is responsible for him or her, or, a child left unaccompanied after entry into Turkey, provided that he or she did not subsequently come under the active care of a responsible adult”.
Turkey is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and domestic child-protection standards are generally in line with international obligations. According to Turkish Law, unaccompanied children, once identified, should be taken under state protection with due diligence under the authority of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services.
Article 48 TPR provides that unaccompanied children shall be treated in accordance with relevant child protection legislation and in consideration of the “best interests” principle. The 2015 Ministry of Family and Social Policies Directive on Unaccompanied Children provides additional guidance regarding the rights, protection procedures and implementation of services for unaccompanied children. The Directive designates the PDMM as the state institution responsible for the identification, registration and documentation of the unaccompanied children. PDMM are also entrusted the responsibility of providing shelter to unaccompanied children until the completion of the age assessment, health checks and registration / documentation procedures upon which the child is referred to the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services.
Once the PDMM refers the child to the relevant Provincial Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services Child Protection Directorate, temporary protection beneficiary unaccompanied children aged 0-12 are to be transferred to a child protection institution under the authority of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services. Unaccompanied children between the ages of 13-18, who do not demonstrate any special needs may be placed in dedicated “child protection units” providing services within the premises of camps under the authority of the Provincial Child Protection Directorate under the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services. In practice, however, the referral mechanisms set out in the 2015 Directive are not being used according to stakeholders’ observations.
According to the TPR, unaccompanied children are mainly housed in Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services shelters but may also be placed in Temporary Accommodation Centres if appropriate conditions can be ensured. In practice, unaccompanied children between the ages of 0-18 are transferred to the nearest Provincial Child Protection Directorate. These children are not only Syrians, but include children from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and South Africa. Unaccompanied children are placed in the child protection units established by the Ministry in Ağrı, Konya, Yozgat, Gaziantep, Bilecik, Erzincan, Istanbul and Van. As of March 2018, there were 288 children in these centres. 8 children are being cared for by families. Socio-economic support services are provided to 450 children who live with their families.
Türk Kızılay also runs a Child Protection Centre (Çocuk Koruma Merkezi) under a pilot project launched in March 2017. Its difference from child protection centres run by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services lies in its primary role in preserving integration and social inclusion of refugee children. There is only one such centre established at the moment, located in Altındağ, Ankara, close to the Ankara community centre managed by Türk Kızılay. Children benefitting from the Child Protection Centre live with their families. There, they benefit from a range of activities for children aged 6-18, including drama and music lessons and Turkish language courses. Activities, workshops, seminars and trainings are organized under various topics to provide psychosocial support with the children in the Child Friendly Space and Youth Friendly Space for 6-18 age group. The meals from Turkish Red Crescent Ankara Branch Soup Kitchen are served to children twice a day. There is also shuttle service for children coming to the centre. As of January 2020, 47,769 children have benefitted from the centre’s services.
According to a March 2018 report of the Grand National Assembly, a total of 53,253 children living outside camps have lost one parent, while 3,969 children in camps have lost their father, 390 have lost their mother and 290 have lost both. Updated figures for 2019 are not available.
The psychosocial well-being of Syrian children in Turkey has been visibly impacted from the traumatic effects of war and flight, as well as deprivation, lack of opportunities for social interaction, and limited access to basic services. According to a European Commission report, citing figures by the government, an estimated 25% of Syrian children suffer from sleeping disorders. The University of Marmara has noted that six out of ten Syrian refugee children suffer from mental health conditions such as PTSD and depression.
Women and girls under temporary protection
Protection from domestic violence
As regards the protection of women, Article 48 TPR refers to Turkey’s Law No 6284 on Protection of the Family and Prevention of Violence, and the Implementing Regulation of this law, which provides a series of preventive and protection measures for women who are either victim or at risk of violence.
These guarantees are particularly important in light of the persisting risks of gender-based violence or even death generally affecting women in Turkey. As highlighted by a June 2018 study, given the crowded living conditions in which women find themselves in urban areas (see Housing), “the risks for gender-based violence, sexual abuse of girls and child marriage in crowded arrangements are high and hard to address.” Incidents of such violence include the rape of a pregnant Syrian woman in 2017, who was subsequently murdered with her 10-month-old baby in the province of Sakarya. In 2018, a Syrian woman was killed by her uncle in Bursa. In 2020 two of the attackers were sentenced to 4 years 7 months and 3 years and 20 days imprisonment. In early 2020, there was also a case of a mother and daughter in a refugee camp who were allegedly forced into sex work to meet their basic needs.
Women subjected to or at risk of domestic violence or sexual or gender-based violence by people other than family members must be protected by the competent state authorities. When a woman contacts the police or any other state institution or a third party informs the authorities, depending on the case, either preventive or protective measures should be taken. Temporary protection beneficiary women can also benefit from these measures.
On the basis of a referral from either the police, women can be referred to Centres for the Elimination and Monitoring of Violence (Şiddet Önleme ve İzleme Merkezi, ŞÖNİM), which then refer them to women shelters (kadın konukevi) run by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, municipalities or NGOs in accordance with available capacity.
The problem, however, is that the overall number and capacity of women’s shelters in Turkey falls very short of the need (see International Protection: Special Reception Needs). In 2018 Turkey had a total of 144 shelters spread across 79 municipalities, with an overall capacity of 3,454 places, with reports of 145 shelters in 2019 with a capacity of 3,482. According to experts, the number of centres should be around 8,000 to cater for existing needs. Since women shelters are meant to accommodate both Turkish and foreign nationals in the locality, temporary protection and international protection beneficiary women are also affected by the capacity problems. The need for women shelters in regions such as Gaziantep, Adana, Şanlıurfa is pressing.
Another related practical limitation is that, although the law clearly provides that both women at risk of violence and women who have actually been subjected to violence should be able to access shelters, in practice due to capacity problems only women who have actually been subjected to violence are offered access to existing shelters. In most cases, shelters also inquire into the women’s claim to ascertain that violence is “certain” and request evidence such as an assault report or a criminal investigation, although practice is not uniform across the country. Shelters in Gaziantep request medical reports and ask women whether they have filed a report with the police, whereas in Osmaniye they do not. For foreign women to access women’s shelters in Ankara managers request a medical report evidencing the physical violence and a written criminal complaint.
As a rule, women placed in shelters can stay in the facility up to 6 months. This period can be extended on exceptional basis. Victims of trafficking are invited to leave the country within one month (see International Protection: Special Reception Needs).
The Women Shelters Regulation issued in 2013 also clearly indicates that for a woman to be admitted to a shelter, she is not required to provide a valid identity document. However, a Temporary Protection Identification Document is required of women seeking to be admitted to shelters in practice. In 2019 some women’s shelters in Istanbul required registration in the city and an identity number to accept applicants.
In urgent cases, women who are not accommodated in women’s shelters may also stay at “mercy houses” run by municipalities for 2-3 days. Such houses are run by the municipalities of Altındağ, Yenimahalle, Ulus and Central Municipality in Ankara, for example.
Practice indicates persisting obstacles to effective protection of women from domestic violence. In Muğla, for instance, where child marriages remain very frequent among Syrians, women and girls face an array of difficulties, ranging from delays of up to one day in police stations, to the regular tendency of authorities to bring the perpetrator to the police station against the will of the victim for the purposes of reconciliation. Women are placed in shelters only if they refuse such reconciliation. According to organisations assisting refugee women and girls, there is limited awareness and involvement in these cases on the part of the Muğla Bar Association.
Syrian women living in Ankara subject to violence have faced difficulties in going alone to hospital or to the PDMM. They often do not know how to read or men do not allow them to go out alone. In Ankara, Diskapi and Ulus State hospitals are not well equipped in terms of translators although NGOs try to help Syrian women in this process.
Access to justice in the courts is also difficult due to language barriers. Women receive notifications from the courts in Turkish not in Arabic including in SMS messages. Syrian women’s cases can be rejected due to a lack of translators in the courts or a lack of knowledge on the part of the legal aid staff. In the past, the Gelincik Centre from the Ankara Bar Association provided specialist services to Syrian women victims of violence but now this service is provided by the legal aid office which has no specific experience in dealing with these issues.
Court orders on suspension in case of domestic violence are given however they are not very effective since the perpetrators and victims live either in the same household or same quarter. Violence by the Turkish police or on the migration route is prevalent but not visible at all. Syrian women cannot talk about this type of sexual harassment and violence. 
Polygamous and arranged marriages
In addition to violence, protection of women and girls below 18 involved in arranged marriages and unofficial polygamous marriages – including “second wives” and girls sold into marriage by their families – is another important and persisting concern. While both practices are criminalised under Turkish law, polygamous marriages are legally recognised in Syria and women are not always aware of the differences between the two countries’ legal framework and their rights therein. These problems have also led to an increase in early divorce rates among girls below 18, as well as a rising number of children abandoned by their mothers due to marriage to Turkish men.
Despite criminalisation in Turkish law, in practice temporary protection beneficiaries have limited opportunities to claim the relevant legal safeguards and protection measures for lack of sufficient public information and crucially very short supply of counselling and legal assistance services available to refugee women. In addition, public authorities such as health care institutions often refrain from discharging their legal obligation to inform the police of child marriage cases when treating child brides and mothers. Where they do inform the authorities, police officers may refrain from investigating the cases.
Statistics on such reports are not available countrywide. In Edirne, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services received 186 reports of pregnant girls in 2017.
Initiatives such as the Child Protection Centre run by Türk Kızılay in Altındağ, Ankara offer information to women on early pregnancy, child marriage, sexual harassment, reproductive rights and contraception. SGDD-ASAM also runs Women’s Health and Counselling Centres in a number of provinces including Mersin, providing language courses and health care among other services. Bodrum Women’s Solidarity Association provides trainings and workshops on sexual health, hygiene along with legal counselling and social cohesion activities.
CARE Turkey provides critical early and forced marriage information to Syrian and Turkish community members in Gaziantep, Kilis and Şanlıurfa through community events, one on one legal counselling and empowering girls under threat of early marriage to access legal remedies in coordination with Turkish authorities. Through a rights based approach, CARE trains Syrian community members on key protection messages, including early marriage, which are disseminated through an innovative peer to peer approach and CARE’s community-based Information Protection Spaces.
In addition, polygamous marriages have an impact on refugees’ access to certain rights such as Social Welfare. The assistance granted under the ESSN, for instance, is only provided to one wife and her registered per household.
Finally, the issue of arranged marriages is not confined to women in Turkey. Reports have also documented cases of refugee men sold into marriage.
The situation of sex workers
Furthermore, specific groups such as sex workers are in a particularly vulnerable position due to the frequent interpretation of sex work as conduct threatening public order or public health in Turkey.
Torture survivors under temporary protection
Both LFIP and TPR identify “torture survivors” among persons with special needs. Torture survivors, like all other temporary protection beneficiaries, have access to a range of healthcare services in public hospitals, including psychiatric assistance. There are also a small number of NGOs that specialise in treatment and rehabilitation services to torture survivors.
LGBTI persons under temporary protection
Persons belonging to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex populations are not defined by the TPR as a category of “persons with special needs”. The lack of a gender-sensitive registration procedure under TPR has an impact on their ability to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity or being registered as persons with special needs.
LGBT refugees feel unsafe and vulnerable due to a climate of widespread discrimination, although they generally perceive Turkish host communities to be more tolerant than Syrian communities. They are also targeted by hate crime and violence. On 25 July 2016, a Syrian man in Istanbul was reportedly kidnapped by a group of men, repeatedly raped and beaten before being murdered.A man was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after unjust provocation and good conduct abatements.
Syrian trans women, including trans sex workers, are faced with discriminatory – in some cases violent – treatment in their contacts with authorities, ranging from dealings with police authorities, to registration with DGMM, or to accessing health care services or housing. In one hate crime incident reported on 17 December 2016 in Istanbul, a trans woman sex worker was murdered by a person posing as a client. Another trans woman from Syria was found dead in her hotel room in Beyoglu, Istanbul, on March 9, 2018. In Yalova, a refugee trans woman, Ayda, was attacked by a large group of men in her neighbourhood on May 30, 2018. 
Sexual orientation is also a factor hindering people’s access to housing, as temporary protection beneficiaries living in crowded apartments with other Syrian nationals are often forced to leave or to consent to sexual abuse when their sexual orientation is revealed. In other cases, discrimination coming from family members or local communities pushes trans persons to move to larger cities in Turkey. Even in large cities such as Istanbul, however, LGBT persons face barriers in terms of access to health care and many report being unable to approach official health care institutions, but rather refer to UNHCR implementing partners. Their access to health care, including in Migrant Health Centres (see Health Care) is hindered by high levels of discrimination.
The Hatay Bar Association supported the case of a trans woman living in a Temporary Accommodation Centre to access gender reassignment surgery and change of gender at a state hospital.
Ethnic minorities under temporary protection
The number of members of ethnic minorities, such as Roma, Dom and Lom groups from Syria are not known for certain but in 2018 it was around 20,000 in the provinces of Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa. In Gaziantep, these groups generally live in rural areas, work in seasonal agricultural work and refrain from registering out of fear of being discriminated by the public authorities. In the Sirinevler district of Gaziantep 70% of the population is Dom. In 2019 the Dom population in Antep decreased by around 10,000 as people migrated to big cities like Istanbul or Ankara because of discrimination. Young Dom women and men started to work in Istanbul especially in the textile sector in small enterprises. Others are employed in the seasonal agriculture sector in the region as well as in Central Anatolian provinces such as Konya, Eskişehir or Aksaray. The daily wage ıs more or less the same as their Turkish counterparts now although they still face exploitation. In Gaziantep, there is a huge industrial area in the Unaldi district where many Syrians including Doms, are employed without a work permit. In rural areas, families generally live together. However, in big cities, they prefer not to be visible and live separated from each other.
These groups are under temporary protection, however they generally have old versions of identity documents such as “guest” cards and YKN cards starting with the digit “98” (see Temporary Protection Identification Document). One reason for this is the fear of being discriminated in PDMM. They do not comply with their duties of reporting due to perceived and actual institutional discrimination and so have major difficulties in accessing basic services. While improvements with regard to raising awareness were noted in 2019, there is still no standardised practice towards the Dom community. From 2019 travel documents were issued online which makes it difficult for Dom communities to access.
The Dom community was badly affected by the Istanbul operation in July 2019 with some families being deported to the safe zone (Bab area). Some families returned to Antep but the temporary protection of those who signed voluntary return forms was not reactivated when they came back and was eventually cancelled. This group is very frightened of deportation and so do not report any violations that occur.
Access to health is still quite problematic for the Dom community due to discrimination so they prefer going to the Migrant Health Centre funded by UNCHR with Syrian doctors. The Syrian doctors working in these centres earn less than their Turkish colleagues and the quality of the service can be low.
Dom groups traditionally did not get married but they are starting to in order to access social benefits as this is one of the requirements. Women have also begun to be more conscious about their civil rights.
The Kirkayak Cultural Centre helps Dom communities access services and rights such as registering newborn babies. In 2019 they assessed the educational needs of Dom students and launched a project to attract more students to education as well as to provide training on anti-discrimination and bullying. In Nizip (Antep) there is a small Dom community with a school just next to their camp. Children from the Dom community were not attending the school but through the Centre’s efforts two children are now attending.
 Article 48 TPR.
 Information provided by a lawyer of the Ankara Bar Association, March 2019.
 Article 30(3) TPR, as inserted by Regulation 2018/11208. The previous provision in Article 23(4) TPR has been repealed by the amendment.
Grand National Assembly, Göç ve Uyum Raporu, March 2018.
 Türk Kızılay, Syrian Crisis Humanitarian Relief Operation, January 2020, 10.
 Grand National Assembly, Göç ve Uyum Raporu, March 2018.
 European Commission, Education and Protection Programme for Vulnerable Syrian and Host Community School-aged Children, in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, Ares(2017)3292256, 30 June 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2BMs0SK, 4.
 For 2017 figures on killings and sexual abuse, see Hürriyet, ‘409 women killed, 387 children sexually abused in Turkey: 2017 Report’, 2 January 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2lYHgC6. See also Observatory for Human Rights and Forced Migrants in Turkey, A Year of Impunity: A one year visual database of migration-related human rights abuses, July 2017, 14.
 SGDD-ASAM and UN Women, Needs assessment of Syrian women and girls under temporary protection status in Turkey, June 2018, 26.
Hürriyet, ‘Pregnant Syrian woman raped, killed with baby in Turkey’s northwest’, 7 July 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2z3hUaE. See also Refugee News Turkey, ‘Turkey jails two for life over murder of a female Syrian refugee and her baby’, 16 January 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2mS4jzV.
 Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, ‘'137 Sığınma Evi Yetmiyor' Başlıklı Haberle İlgili Basın Açıklaması’, 6 September 2018, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2Ofi7AT.See BBC Turkey, 25 Kasım Kadına Yönelik Şiddetle Mücadele Günü – Kadınların ağzından sığınma evleri: 'Sanki suç işlemişiz gibi davranıyorlar', 25 November 2019, available in Turkish at: https://bbc.in/33S3g7j; See also, NPR, 'We Don't Want To Die': Women In Turkey Decry Rise In Violence And Killings, 15 September 2019, at: https://n.pr/39m6TU9.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2018.
Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.
Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.
Information provided by a stakeholder in Ankara, February 2020.
 Information provided by the Women’s Solidarity Foundation, February 2019.
 Information provided by a stakeholder in Istanbul, March 2020.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, December 2017.
 Information provided by the Esra Khashram, Foundation for Women’s Solidarity (KADAV), February 2020.
See Deutsche Welle, ‘Kadınlar ikinci eş bulma sitelerine karşı isyanda’, 21 December 2017, available in Turkish at: http://bit.ly/2CF5Q5b. See also Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, Syrians under “temporary protection” in Turkey and sex work, 2017, 103.
 Information provided by an NGO, February 2019.
 Information provided by a lawyer of the Istanbul Bar Association, March 2019.
See IPA news, “Shock figures reveal extent of underage pregnancy among Syrian refugees”, 3 September 2019, on the situation in Antalya, available at: https://bit.ly/2UsRtt7; Sputnik News, ‘'İstanbul'da bir hastaneye çoğu Suriyeli 392 hamile çocuk getirildi, savcılık 59 doktor hakkında soruşturma başlattı'’, 15 July 2018, available in Turkish at: https://bit.ly/2TZkuwU, referring to 392 Turkish and Syrian pregnant girls who were not reported in Bağcılar State Hospital in Istanbul; Heinrich Böll Foundation, ‘High underage pregnancy rates among refugee children rattle Turkey’, 29 January 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2BM185I, referring to at least 5 Syrians.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, December 2017.
 Information provided by SGDD-ASAM, February 2018.
 Information provided by Bodrum Women’s Solidarity Association, March 2019.
 Information provided by CARE Turkey, February 2019.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.
 Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, Syrians under “temporary protection” in Turkey and sex work, 2017, 53-54. The report draws on interviews with 26 Syrian sex workers, as well as a range of authorities and civil society organisations.
 Zeynep Kivilcim, ‘LGBT Syrian refugees in Turkey’, 2016, 31.
 Ibid, 32-33.
Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association, Syrians under “temporary protection” in Turkey and sex work, 2017, 88-89, 97.
 Zeynep Kivilcim, ‘LGBT Syrian refugees in Turkey’, 2016, 34.
Zeynep Kivilcim, ‘LGBT Syrian refugees in Turkey’, 2016, 34.
Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.
Information provided by the Antakya Bar Association, February 2018.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.
Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2018.
Information provided by a stakeholder, Gaziantep, February 2020.