Concern Worldwide implements strategy to support Syrian refugees in Turkey and Lebanon


SOUTHINGTON, Connecticut – Since its inception in 1968, Concern Worldwide has operated in 23 countries. To this day she is building up education and psychosocial support. The Ireland-based humanitarian organization recently focused on the COVID-19 emergency response and the Syrian crisis in Turkey and Lebanon as a strategy to assist Syrian refugees. The organization has also advocated making vaccines available to all countries as global vaccination could take until 2024 without coordinated intervention. Concern Worldwide works on site in Turkey and Lebanon to distribute relief supplies on the Global Giving platform and to collect donations for the Syrian crisis aid. Efforts are focused on protecting Syrian refugees and other populations with humanitarian efforts to alleviate poverty around the world.

Concern worldwide in Turkey

First, Concern Worldwide has protected part of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey since 2013. US policy manager Makayla Palazzo told The Borgen Project that Concern Worldwide had reached 100,000 beneficiaries in 2020. According to Palazzo, Concern Worldwide Lebanon and Turkey focused on “psychosocial support” through remote counseling. The organization set up a program to protect and build resilience for refugees in southeastern Turkey from September 2019 to August 2020.

The project, funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), focused on responding to COVID-19. In addition, individual protective help, psychosocial support and case management services were in the foreground. The project’s resources and tools served 50,604 people and performed mostly within or above expectations in October 2020. The assessments found that awareness-raising sessions help refugees learn and claim rights. In addition, the COVID-19 cash assistance is seen as a necessary strategy to support Syrian refugees. The ECHO-funded project “Emergency Education, Protection Support and Resilience Building for Refugees in Southeastern Turkey” is running in a third phase from September 2020 to August 2021.

In response to COVID-19, Concern Worldwide distributed hygiene kits containing surface cleaners, shampoo and soap to vulnerable people in countries like Turkey during COVID-19. Palazzo provided further details on responsive measures, adding how Concern Worldwide “supports” “government schools” in Turkey. The organization gave “online training for parents” on preventing the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, it distributed “household items such as mattresses and kitchen utensils as well as cash for groceries” to beneficiaries in Turkey.

Concern worldwide in Lebanon

Concern Worldwide has been supporting Lebanon since 2013 as Lebanon is home to 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization worked to secure rental agreements for Syrian refugees. Concern rehabilitated degrading buildings in exchange for refugee rental negotiations as a strategy to support Syrian refugees. The organization has also focused on protecting the livelihoods of Syrian refugees and Lebanese people through remote psychosocial support. Concern Worldwide provides remote assistance to address child protection and gender-based violence cases. Shelter and WASH protocols in Lebanon have been expanded. Concern is currently rehabilitating two isolation facilities in Akkar, Lebanon, for refugees with COVID-19 cases. About 3,098 Syrian refugees and Lebanese received COVID-19 responses. Concern Worldwide provided educational sessions and hygiene kits on COVID-19 after June 2020. The organization then distributed cash transfers to temporarily unemployed refugee homes.

Palazzo reported that in 2020, at a time when poverty was becoming more desperate, the organization reached 55,000 beneficiaries across northern Lebanon. The “proportion of people living in extreme poverty was 90%”. That was a 35% increase from 55% in 2019. Concern Worldwide Lebanon helped raise funds and provide humanitarian aid after the port of Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020 left 300,000 people homeless. Palazzo told the Borgen Project that Concern Worldwide, UNFPA, ECHO and the Irish government were funding a grant project with Lebanese citizens in which “teams of architects and engineers” “went around Beirut doing damage assessments and” [helped]Reconstructing destroyed accommodation ”from August 2020.

Response of the global COVID-19 partner organization von Sorge

In addition to the grant project, Concern Worldwide worked with ECHO in Syria to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to address challenges related to conflict in Syria and increased food insecurity. Concern Worldwide is partnering with government donors like USAID and Irish Aid as grants from ECHO and the European Union to support COVID-19 projects as a strategy to assist Syrian refugees. In November 2020, the European Commission certified a financing partnership between the European Union 2021-2027 and Concern Worldwide for humanitarian aid operations during COVID-19.

Go forward

Concern Worldwide published an article by the Country Director in March 2021 to advocate for the Syria crisis and a strong response to COVID-19. The article announced that 4 million Lebanese and 1.2 million Syrian refugees remain food insecure. Concern Worldwide has identified funding needs of $ 1.174 billion in Turkey alone this year. This comes at a time when “76% of Syrian refugees in Turkey are living below the poverty line”. Palazzo told The Borgen Project that Concern Worldwide was committed to protecting Lebanese migrant workers by posting videos on social media of migrant workers’ experiences “because their needs were often not met after the explosion.”

With Turkey and Lebanon hoping to receive COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, Concern Worldwide is advocating for global vaccine equity by defining how vaccine distribution should be distributed as needed while vaccine production by implementing emergency response measures as a strategy to support Syrian refugees is increased. Although the situation is dire for many, this year, like many before, is primarily a year of survival. As Concern Worldwide’s work continues, larger numbers of vulnerable refugee populations can survive until positive change brings much-needed security.

– Evan Winslow
Photo: Unsplash


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