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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Türkiye: providing support for refugees with disabilities

Najim lost one of his legs 5 years ago when an air attack hit his village in Syria.

Fleeing the violence and looking for proper treatment, he ended up in Reyhanli, a small town on the Turkish side of the border. The local rehabilitation centre of Relief International, funded by EU humanitarian aid, helped him with a prosthesis and adapted physiotherapy.

Being mobile again, Najim could start working in his brother’s store selling baklava, knafeh, and other traditional desserts.

After a while, he even took over the shop, which became a hotspot in town. 2 days before we met Najim, he got engaged, dreaming of a prosperous future in Türkiye.

Man with bandaged leg sitting on a chair. In the back posters with medical information.
“When I decided to come to Türkiye, it took me 3 days to reach the border. I had stop often and pass by plenty of checkpoints. Luckily, the medical committee at the Turkish border quickly granted me access and brought me to the rehabilitation centre.”
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Diego Cupolo)
A girl, with both legs bandaged, sitting on a table while speaking to aid workers
The centre of Relief International offers rehabilitation services to war victims, but also to refugees with other disabilities.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Diego Cupolo)
2 men making prostheses in a workshop
The EU-funded centre has its own workshop were prostheses and other medical material is produced and adapted to the needs of the patients. Local staff – both Turkish and Syrian – take care of all technical, medical and administrative tasks.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Diego Cupolo)
Man walking with the help of a revalidation rack
“The economic crisis makes it hard to do business: inflation goes that fast that the ingredients I buy lose their value before I can sell my products. Moreover, I see a growing anti-Syrian sentiment. Even my store has been hit by vandalism recently.”
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Diego Cupolo)
View of the workshop where 3 people are creating prostheses
With EU humanitarian funding, Relief International provides specialised services including mental health support, community health interventions, physical rehabilitation, and protection and livelihood support for refugees with disabilities.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Diego Cupolo)
Young boy with a prosthesis leg walking along a corridor in the revalidation centre
Over the past years, the health and rehabilitation centre in Reyhanli helped close to 1,500 patients with mobility aid. Another 9,000 were supported in other EU-funded centres of Relief International across Türkiye.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Diego Cupolo)

Story by Tom De Smedt, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Photos: © European Union, 2022 (photographer: Diego Cupolo)
Publication date: 02/12/2022