Chil­dren ini­ti­ate project to pro­tect Syr­ian refugees from harsh win­ter con­di­tions

The ‘Cozy Kind­ness Project,’ ini­ti­ated by a group of Turk­ish chil­dren and their par­ents, looks to help Syr­ian refugee chil­dren cope with the win­ter cold by knit­ting scarves and bar­rettes

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics -

home to the largest refugee pop­u­la­tion in the world, Turk­ish peo­ple con­tinue their ef­forts in dif­fer­ent fields to relieve the needs of Syr­ian refugees. The lat­est project came from the chil­dren who want to help the refugees cope with the harsh win­ter con­di­tions.

Turk­ish chil­dren, who are study­ing in “knowl­edge houses” with their par­ents, ini­ti­ated the “Cozy Kind­ness Project” un­der the roof of Ko­caeli Metropoli­tan Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to help Syr­ian refugee chil­dren brave the cold. As part of the project, pri­mary and sec­ondary school stu­dents and 80 moth­ers are knit­ting scarves and bar­rettes for Syr­ian chil­dren. The scarves and bar­rettes will be trans­ferred to the refugee camps along Syr­ian-Turk­ish bor­der through the Hu­man Rights and Lib­erty Hu­man­i­tar­ian As­sis­tance Foun­da­tion (İHH).

Speak­ing to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ali Gölcü, re­spon­si­ble for the knowl­edge houses that launched nu­mer­ous ed­u­ca­tional projects for Syr­ian refugees, un­der­scored that 250 scarves and bar­rettes have been knit­ted so far within the frame­work of the project.

“We have seen a lot of ef­fort in car­ry­ing out this project; we have seen that the chil­dren are en­thu­si­as­tic. As you know, our coun­try opened its doors to many peo­ple in this geog­ra­phy and we are try­ing to sup­port as much as we can. Chil­dren are also aware of this,” Gölcü said.

Chil­dren also ex­pressed their sat­is­fac­tion and hap­pi­ness about be­ing part of such a project and help­ing Syr­ian chil­dren in need. Kadirhan Kara­man, a fourth-grade stu­dent, stated that he would be happy if refugee chil­dren cheer up.

“They are chil­dren like us and we share the same names. I feel happy help­ing them,” Devrim Alataş, a sev­enth-grade stu­dent, said. Point­ing out that she, as a mother, is very glad to be a part of this project, İnci Topçu high­lighted that after she brought


her chil­dren to the knowl­edge house, she de­cided to stay and help the project to the best of her abil­ity in­stead of go­ing home.

Since 2011, Tur­key has re­ceived a con­stant flow of dis­placed Syr­i­ans flee­ing the con­flict and their num­bers have ex­panded from mere thou­sands to mil­lions. So far, Tur­key has spent more than $30 bil­lion on their well-be­ing. The coun­try is host­ing the big­gest Syr­ian refugee pop­u­la­tion in the world. Since the be­gin­ning of the cri­sis, the gov­ern­ment and peo­ple of Tur­key have demon­strated un­par­al­leled gen­eros­ity in sup­port­ing refugees and in­te­grat­ing them into na­tional ser­vices, in­clud­ing health, ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment, and other mu­nic­i­pal and so­cial ser­vices. Tur­key’s Dis­as­ter and Emer­gency Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (AFAD) has led the ef­forts to shel­ter refugees. Orig­i­nally set up to help dis­as­ter vic­tims, AFAD was tasked with ac­com­mo­dat­ing refugees amid the Syr­ian cri­sis. At some 14 ac­com­mo­da­tion cen­ters, in­clud­ing tent camps and mod­ern pre­fab­ri­cated hous­ing units, AFAD hosts 174,256 Syr­ian refugees.

The rest ei­ther live in houses they rented or bought or in homes pro­vided by char­i­ties in Tur­key’s 81 prov­inces. Mod­ern camps pro­vide refugees with ac­cess to all ba­sic ser­vices, from ed­u­ca­tion to vo­ca­tional train­ing cour­ses. Ed­u­ca­tion is the main con­cern for refugees as youth and chil­dren make up the ma­jor­ity of Syr­i­ans tak­ing shel­ter in Tur­key.

As the war has dragged on, Tur­key shifted its pol­icy to­ward refugees from sim­ple pro­tec­tion and hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to in­te­gra­tion as only a small frac­tion of the over­all refugee pop­u­la­tion stays in state-run camps near the bor­der with Syria, while the rest are spread out across Tur­key.

Women and chil­dren make up the ma­jor­ity of refugees, and many refugee fam­i­lies de­pend on fa­thers and elder sons for in­come. Ed­u­ca­tion is a key part of the in­te­gra­tion of refugees as 1 mil­lion of these refugees are chil­dren of school age. Tur­key granted ac­cess to pub­lic schools in 2014, and de­spite a lan­guage bar­rier and a dif­fer­ent cur­ricu­lum, the refugees are of­fered Turk­ish lan­guage classes, re­me­dial cour­ses, coun­sel­ing and many other ser­vices. As of 2018, some 611,418 Syr­ian chil­dren are en­rolled in Turk­ish schools, which equals 63 per­cent of the school-aged pop­u­la­tion.

Pri­mary and sec­ondary school stu­dents and 80 moth­ers in Ko­caeli Metropoli­tan Mu­nic­i­pal­ity knit scarves and bar­rettes for Syr­ian chil­dren, Jan. 13, 2019.

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