While the LFIP does not employ the term of “reception conditions” as such, Articles 88 and 89 LFIP commit a set of rights, entitlements and benefits for international protection applicants, which thematically and substantially fall within the scope of the EU Reception Conditions Directive.
Articles 88 and 89 LFIP govern the level of provision and access that shall be granted to international protection applicants (and status holders) in the areas of education, health care, social assistance and services, access to labour market, financial allowance. Turkey does not commit the provision of shelter to international protection on applicants, but authorises DGMM to extend, on discretionary basis, state-funded accommodation to international protection applicants under the auspices of Reception and Accommodation Centres. At present, there is only one Reception and Accommodation Centre in operation in Yozgat.
Rights and benefits granted to international protection applicants and status holders may not exceed the level of rights and benefits afforded to citizens.
International protection applicants who are identified to be “in need”, may be allocated a financial allowance by DGMM. DGMM shall establish the criteria and modalities for this financial allowance, and the Ministry of Finance’s input will be sought in determining the amounts. Applicants whose applications are identified to be inadmissible and those processed in accelerated procedure are excluded from financial allowance.
It must be underlined that this is not a right but rather a benefit that “may be” allocated to “needy” applicant by DGMM on discretionary basis. DGMM should put in place implementation guidelines, which may include guidance as to the specific criteria and procedure by which an applicant would be identified as “needy” for the purposes of financial allowance. In this regard, applicants are required to keep the competent PDMM informed of their up-to-date employment status, income, any real estate or other valuables acquired. This indicates that such information may be a factor in the assessment of “neediness” for the purpose of financial allowance. However, there is currently no implementation of Article 89(5) LFIP, and therefore the possibility of financial allowance to international protection applicants by the state remains only theoretical to date.
Social assistance and benefits
International protection applicants identified “to be in need” can seek access to “social assistance and benefits”. The LFIP merely refers international protection applicants to existing state-funded “social assistance and benefits” dispensed by the provincial governorates as per Turkey’s Law on Social Assistance and Solidarity. The Governorates dispense social assistance and benefits under this scheme by means of the Social Solidarity and Assistance Foundations; government agencies structured within the provincial governorates.
According to the Law on Social Assistance and Solidarity, the Governorates dispense both in kind assistance such as coal and wood for heating purposes, food and hygiene items and financial assistance to “poor and needy residents” in the province, including foreign nationals. As such, it will be up to the provincial Social Solidarity and Assistance Foundation to determine whether they qualify for the “poor and needy” threshold.
As of 2018, if the person in need is an adult, social assistance varies between 410-760 TL / €82-152 and if the applicant goes into university the amount of assistance rises up to 928 TL / €186. There is also another quarterly financial assistance from the governorates that varies between 80-100 TL / €15-20.
The Social Solidarity and Assistance Foundation also provides disabled home care assistance to families who have a disabled family member who is unable to cater for his or her daily needs without the care and assistance of another family member. This is a regular financial assistance provided to the caregiver.
There are also social assistance benefits granted by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services. The social workers of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services’ social service units take the final decision in practice. Their evaluation is based on criteria such as the presence of a working family member, provision of social assistance from other bodies, the presence of an emergency situation or numbers of children in the household. There are biannual or yearly assessment periods upon which social workers might stop this assistance if they deem that the financial situation of the family has changed. In addition, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services has an assistance programme to increase the number of refugees speaking Turkish, in coordination with UNHCR.
Municipalities may also provide assistance to applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection. The types of assistance provided by the municipalities differ as they depend on the resources of each municipality. Assistance packages may include coal, food parcels, clothing and other kinds of non-food items. The eligibility criteria to receive assistance may also differ between municipalities.
The Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) is an important actor in this field and is active in each city of Turkey as a public interest corporation. In most cases, their social assistance is not financial but in kind: distribution of wheelchairs to disabled persons, distribution of food, clothes or soup in winter for people in need. They have also a special fund for people with special and emergency needs. With the help of this fund, they can provide medical help such as buying a prosthesis or hearing instruments for children.
Beyond social assistance from the state, the EU has funded cash assistance programmes such as the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) and the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE). These are described in Temporary Protection: Social Welfare as they are mainly, though not exclusively, addressed to Syrian temporary protection holders.
The ESSN scheme is the single largest humanitarian project in the history of the EU and as of early 2021, was assisting around 1.8 million people. It is estimated it will have helped 2 million people by the end of 2021. There were problems accessing the scheme in 2020 in Central Anatolia. Due to the pandemic, the Social Welfare and Solidarity Foundations (SYDV) stopped household visits so ESSN applications could not be received. Interruptions in data updating processes, also meant that protection holders could not submit an ESSN applications.
The EU has also contributed €104 million to bi-monthly cash transfers to vulnerable refugee families whose children attend school regularly under the ‘Conditional Cash Transfers for Education’ (CCTE). By the beginning of 2021, CCTE had benefitted more than 750,000 children who attended school regularly. The EU has funded around 20,000 Syrian refugee children and young people to enroll in accelerated learning programmes helping them make up for lost years of schooling, where they also got basic literacy and numeracy classes, and Turkish language courses. Since 2017, the EU has also provided transportation to an average of 6,000 children per month to help them attend their formal and non-formal education activities. Access to distance education in the context of COVID-19 has been problematic so the EU will start to provide tablets and laptops to children. Student support packages (meal packages etc.) for students could not be used for students since they could not go to schools in 2020 and will go instead to buy new tablets and electronic devices for them.
Refugees’ material conditions considerably worsened due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. ASAM published a sectoral analysis report after conducting interviews with their counselees on the phone. 1,162 temporary protection and international protection status holders were contacted – 960 Syrians, 131 Afghans, 49 Iraqis, 20 Iranians, 1 Palestinian, and 1 Somalian. The main challenges encountered by participants were a lack of food and hygiene products. 63% of participants had difficulties in accessing staple food products and 53% struggled to meet basic hygiene needs. Many of them also confronted challenges with monthly expenses such as rent, utilities and bills.
In 2020 UNHCR worked with DGMM to provide a one-off payment of 1,000 Turkish Lira (approximately 100 Euros at the time of writing) to refugees hit hardest by the pandemic. Vulnerability criteria were applied although it is not clear what these were. Around 79,400 households received the payment. UNHCR worked with partners to provide PPE kits to households and to temporary accommodation centres in south east Turkey. UNHCR also supported 12 community initiatives where Turkish citizens and people seeking international protection came together to make soap and masks to be distributed to refugees and host communities.
 Article 95 LFIP.
 Article 88(2) LFIP.
 Article 89(5) LFIP.
 Article 90(1) LFIP.
 Article 79(2) LFIP.
 Information provided by Ministry of Family and Social Policies, February 2018. There was no updated information in 2019 or 2020.
 Information provided by Türk Kızılay, January 2019.
 Information from a stakeholder, March 2021.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021.
 European Commission, available at: http://bit.ly/3d0Bgm9.
 Information from a stakeholder, March 2021.
 ASAM/ COVID-19 Salgınının Türkiye’deki Mülteciler Üzerindeki Etkilerinin Sektörel Analizi, Sectoral Analysis of The Impacts of COVID-19 on Refugees In Turkey, 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3scBehq, 13.