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Press Centre (12/2015)

A new safe space for Syrian and Turkish girls

Şanlıurfa, December 14, 2015 – A ceremony was held today to open the first girl’s safe space for Syrian and most disadvantaged Turkish girls in Süleymaniye, Şanlıurfa. The “My Life” Center, financed by the EU Syria Regional Trust Fund (Madad) and established in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Refugee Education Trust (RET), provides free and supervised activities designed to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, with a focus on out-of-school girls. 

The Center aims to reach about 3000 girls in and around Süleymaniye. Thanks to the support of the Madad Fund, the European Union has contributed €12.5 million to UNICEF to increase access to education and psycho-social support for Syrian children in Turkey, as well as to support resilience and social inclusion. The European Union announced a partnership with UNICEF and WFP regarding the increase of access to education, psycho-social support and food security for Syrians in Turkey through the EU Trust Fund established in September 2015.
“This safe space is critical to the protection and empowerment of girls affected by the conflict in Syria,” said Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative in Turkey. “Here they can feel physically and emotionally safe, and enjoy the freedom of expression without fear of judgment or harm. This financial contribution from the EU Madad Fund allows us to scale up our assistance to Syrian children within the framework of the ‘No Lost Generation’ initiative in close collaboration with the Government of Turkey and partners like RET”.
In addition to providing essential psycho-social support, the “My Life” Center offers Turkish and English language instruction, as well as classes designed to build girls’ self-esteem and confidence such as art, drawing and drama. It also offers training programmes to help girls acquire basic life skills, like leadership and communication.  
 “I would like to reiterate that this inauguration today gives a good example of the European Union solidarity and determination to support Turkey. The name of this Centre, "My Life", is also a demonstration that the conditions of refugees can be improved, and therefore is both an incentive and an encouragement to continue and broaden our cooperation” said Hansjörg Haber, Head of the European Union delegation to Turkey, who attended the ceremony.
The conflict in Syria – triggering what is now the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II – is in its fifth year, with no end in sight. Turkey is home to the largest refugee population in the world, with nearly 2.2 million Syrians – over half of them children. These children have specific protection needs, and girls are particularly vulnerable to serious risks such as gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, and child marriage. 
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For further information please contact: 
Sema Hosta, UNICEF, shosta@unicef.org +90 312 454 10 10

UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org