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Press Centre (12/2017)

Tuba Büyüküstün, UNICEF National Ambassador meets with children in Gaziantep and Kilis


©UNICEF/2017/Olcer
UNICEF National Ambassador Tuba Büyüküstün wrapped up a two-day visit to Gaziantep and Kilis provinces of Turkey last week where she met with Turkish and Syrian refugee children and adolescents.

On the first day, Tuba visited the Al Farah Child and Family Support Center which provides a variety of child friendly services to refugee and vulnerable Turkish children, youth and their families, to equip them with the essential knowledge and skills they need to manage everyday life.

Tuba, surrounded by children, said: “Almost all Syrian children, I met here, are directly affected by the conflict and some have deep emotional scars. No child should face this. Here they are recovering thanks to the psychosocial care and support provided by the experts. They are also and learning new skills in a safe environment. In Arabic ‘Al Farah’ means ‘my happiness’ and the center gives them the opportunity to be children again”.

Tuba and her new friends had quite a busy day enjoying various activities including drumming and painting marking their fun day together. The children in the center listened to Tuba attentively when she read one of her favourite story ”Gukii”. The UNICEF National Ambassador added: “It was amazing to see the smile on the face of Ayse, one of the drummers, as she played her instrument with her friends. This is the result of UNICEF’s and its partners’ work for these children”. The center was filled with laughter and joy.

On the second day, Tuba participated inthe inauguration ceremony of four preschool classrooms which were added to increase the capacity of early childhood education at the Hürriyet Public School. Christian Berger the EU Ambassador to Turkey, representatives of France, Sweden, Netherlands, Greece, Romania, Luxembourg, and high level Government officials were among the participants of the inauguration.These additional classrooms will allow the school to serve a greater number of children and allow them to learn, grow, develop their self-esteem and socialize.

After the ceremony, Tuba paid a visit to the Child Protection Office in Kilis, one of 15 offices opened around Turkey through a partnership between UNICEF and Turkish Red Crescent. The team discussed child protection activities and briefed Tuba about the Extension of the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education Programme (CCTE) for vulnerable refugee children. The programme aims to increase the number of refugee children in schools by promoting school attendance, reducing drop-out rates, and encouraging enrolment. The programme also includes an important component that will ensure the follow-up of the most vulnerable children and their referral to complementary child protection services as required. Built on an existing social protection system for disadvantaged children in Turkey, the goal is to reach 230,000 refugee children by February 2018.

Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Turkey said: “We have to keep in mind that children continue to pay the highest price and bear the heaviest burden of the Syria crisis: their education, their hopes and dreams, and even their lives, continue to be all at risk. Educationis critical for the future of children and efforts should continue to prevent Syrian children from becoming a “lost generation”. More than ever these children need our support and I am grateful, we can count on dedicated advocates for children like our National Ambassador Tuba Büyüküstün”, as well as on a fruitful cooperation with the Turkish Government and the support of generous partners like the European Union

Background:
The Syrian refugee crisis is now well into its 7th year, with no end in sight. Millions have been forced to flee their homes to neighbouring countries, their futures uncertain. Children continue to pay the highest price and bearthe heaviest burden in this crisis: their education, their hopes and dreams, and even their lives, are all at risk.

Turkey is home to the largest refugee population in the world with over 3.2 million Syrians currently registered – 1.4 million of whom are children. Less than 8% of Syrian refugees live in 21 official camps along the Syrian border, while the remaining over 92% reside in host communities – mostly in the southeast, but also increasingly in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and other large cities in the north and west. Despite the significant efforts made by the Government of Turkey, UNICEF and partners on the ground, the scale of this crisis has put enormous strain on the country’s infrastructure and basic services, particularly in host communities.

As of October 2017, over 600,000 Syrian children are enrolled in schools across the country - nevertheless, it is estimated that more than 350,000 are still out of school.

About Al Farah Child and Family Support Centers:
UNICEF has been working closely with ASAM on the provision of multi-disciplinary and integrated services to refugee children and their families through five Child and Family Support Centers (CFSCs) in Adana, Ankara, Gaziantep, Izmir, and Istanbul and a Child Protection Support Hub in Kayseri. To date, nearly 135.000 children and youth have been reached across the six centres.
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