With 4 million registered refugees and asylum-seekers, over 1.7 million of whom are children, Turkey houses the largest refugee population in the world. The majority are Syrians fleeing conflict. Turkey also remains an active transit country for unregistered migrants and refugees from countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other areas in conflict in the region.

Despite national and international efforts to improve the situation of refugees and migrants in Turkey, access to housing, health care, and education remains insufficient. Refugee and migrant adolescents, especially those out of school, face numerous protection risks, including discrimination and exploitation.

Years of exposure to conflict and displacement leave many adolescents struggling with psychosocial challenges. Meanwhile, a growing number of families, desperate to survive and find some measure of protection for their children, are resorting to child labour or child marriage instead of sending their young girls and boys to school.

Turkey Map


The main objective of using the Kit in Turkey is to build social cohesion and strengthen adolescent engagement in host and refugee communities. The Kit has been incorporated into Turkey’s overall youth engagement strategy, which aims to empower adolescents to feel emotionally well and socially connected, and to develop and use skills to steer their own lives and influence the communities around them.

Partnerships with government agencies and NGOs have played an important role in the use of the Kit in Turkey. The programme entry points for the Kit are the NGO-led community centres supporting Syrian refugee families, Government-led youth centres that welcome all adolescents and youth, and Girls’, Women’s and Youth Safe Spaces that are NGO and Government-led. The overall strategy has been to identify programmes that can be supported by the Kit to assist implementing partners to:

  • expand relevant, meaningful activities for adolescents in all programmes (for learning and psychosocial well-being)
  • expand opportunities for adolescent participation – through their leadership and involvement in programmes
  • build a “social cohesion” between Syrian adolescent refugees and young people from the Turkish host community by focusing on respect and connections – which is as a cross-cutting objective of all UNICEF Turkey’s programmes.

UNICEF Turkey’s Child Protection Section and Adolescent Development and Participation Unit has supported these programmes and found that the Kit offered an overarching strategy that support and strengthen all the programmes, especially with respect to their effectiveness for adolescents.

A comprehensive guidebook has been developed to assist partners in implementing the youth engagement strategy, with the Kit integrated as a substantive resource and part of the activities being rolled out. Portions of the Kit have been translated into Turkish and made available to partners in an electronic format.

Joint activities from the Kit carried out with partners include: 

  1. Reaching more adolescents, especially the most vulnerable and hard to reach, through innovative and interactive activities organized in places and at times that are accessible to them.
  2. Forming ‘adolescent committees’ to share ideas in safe spaces and encourage adolescents to take an active role in programme design, implementation and evaluation.
  3. Integrating project-based-learning, through the Take Action phase of the Kit, into ongoing activities.
  4. Quantitative monitoring of adolescents’ attendance, particularly focusing on those from vulnerable groups.

Implementing partners have determined that more efforts are needed to reach vulnerable groups like refugee and migrant adolescents and youth, child laborers, married girls, and young people living in rural communities that are far from established centres and safe spaces.

Partners will also be using guidance and other resources from the Kit to support their work with adolescents in Turkish communities. For instance, adolescent development and participation programming brings together adolescent refugees (especially Syrians) with Turkish adolescents to build social bonds, trust and understanding.

Through various creative outlets that the youth engagement strategy promotes, adolescents are encouraged to set their own realistic and attainable goals and indicators for how they hope programmes will support them. The ongoing interaction with partners creates a feedback mechanism to improve activities that use the Kit for social cohesion activities.