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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

A safety anchor for nomadic refugees

Rıza and Havle used to live a nomadic life in Syria.

The young family decided to settle in Gaziantep, Türkiye, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They asked for temporary protection IDs to access important services such as health care. However, the road to getting proper documentation was bumpy.

Thanks to EU humanitarian funding, the Irish NGO ‘GOAL’ supports nomadic and semi-nomadic refugees like Rıza’s family, as well as seasonal agricultural workers in Türkiye.

These vulnerable groups might miss out access to their basic rights and services because they don’t know about them, or cannot reach them due to their lifestyle.

Riza holding his 3-year-old son, Ali, on his shoulder
Rıza fled the war in Syria with his family 9 years ago, when he was 21 years old. “The journey was long and difficult. We had to sleep at the border for 3 nights before we could cross into Türkiye,” he says.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Necati Savas)
Photo of the family standing in a street.
Rıza got married to Havle in Türkiye in 2015. They now have a 3-year-old son, Ali, and a 7-month-old daughter, Zeynep. The family has a nomadic background.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Necati Savas)
An aid worker, wearing a shirt with an EU flag, seen from the back talking with the family.
They settled in Gaziantep in south-east Türkiye and asked for temporary protection status but struggled to get their identity cards. “We wouldn’t have been able to manage without this support,” says Rıza.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Necati Savas)
Zeynep sitting at a table while her daughter gives her a hug.
Being registered has removed a very important barrier for the family. Now, they can access services and assistance. GOAL also provided them with baby food and diapers for Zeynep, and rental support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Necati Savas)
Photo of the family sitting in their home.
Rıza makes a living by selling prayer beads, but this doesn’t offer a stable income, and the family often struggles to make ends meet. When they were at risk of being evicted during COVID-19, GOAL provided them with rental support, thanks to EU funding.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Necati Savas)
The family sitting in their home, in the foreground a green/pink toy and the little girl.
“It’s a big relief to know that we have someone to call, whenever we face difficulties,” says Rıza. Since they had never lived in the same place this long due to their nomadic lifestyle, dealing with official procedures was unknown territory for them.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Necati Savas)
Riza with relatives and an aid worker sitting along a wall.
The fear and bad memories of the war are still vivid in their memory. Raken, one of Riza’s relatives, says: “There is no one we know left in Syria, but only dry rubble.”
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Necati Savas)
Ali riding a toy horse.
When asked about their dreams, both Riza and Havle answer at the same time: “home”. They hope that one day, they will be able to afford an apartment in better shape without the fear of eviction.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Necati Savas)
  • Photo of  Begum Iman

    Story by Begum Iman, Information and Communication Assistant in Ankara, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

    Twitter: @ECHO_Europe

    Publication date: 11/08/2023