Middle East Foundation is a partner organization of the YOUNGMIG Erasmus KA2 Project. The project starts on 01/04/2021 and ends on 31/03/2023.
Currently, the world has been going through difficult times with the spread of the global COVID-Nineteen (19) pandemic. In order to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 infections, many governments including Turkey have introduced several strict measures such as lockdowns, closing of schools, and canceling public events. Moreover, companies have cut down production and jobs because of shrinking demand and cash flow constraints. Considering these new realities, as mentioned by the International Labour Organization, some of the 272 million international migrants and 79.5 million displaced populations worldwide are more vulnerable than others because of personal, social, situational, and structural factors. Their vulnerabilities are likely to be exacerbated during crisis times, as it is the case with the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the massive forced migration of Syrians who have been escaping from the civil war in Syria adding with Afghan and Iraqi refugees, Turkey hosts the world’s largest number stock of refugees and asylum seekers. These realities enforce Turkey to have a migration perspective in all the fields of life.
Although significant progress made in the management of migration in Turkey, the number of trained human resources and professionals working in this field is still not sufficient. In particular, the sensitivity of professional groups that have direct contact with immigrants and their knowledge and experience in this field is limited. Most of the experts who are intense interaction with migrants do not have adequate knowledge of mother tongue or socio-cultural differences of the migrant groups. This situation prevents people who are dealing with the migration sector and other related sectors in public services and NGOs from identifying the problems and needs of immigrants effectively. Hence, new problem areas arise especially for young immigrants in the country who have already been eager to migrate to other European countries due to the measures taken against the COVID-19 outbreak and the lack of sensitive human resources.
Considering the initial direct impacts of COVID-19, it can comprise enormous socio-economic challenges that can be potentially catastrophic especially for young migrants. Among others, disrupted health services, job, and income losses interrupted access to school, and travel restrictions bear directly on the well-being of young people who are already marked by insecurity will be affected even more seriously.
In recent years, the stock of immigrants and refugees in Turkey has dramatically increased. The migrant perspective is more critical during the global pandemic, since governments may neglect the disadvantaged groups. In order to overcome these risks, the migrant perspective shall be taken into account in all realms and considerations. Public officers, community organizations, and overall society, in general, shall be aware of the risks and hardships most non-citizens could face more in non-normal circumstances. This is required to develop awareness and understanding through education and training. The frequency of the human movements entails efforts of public, private, academic, civil society as well as transnational stakeholders to have an adequate understanding and capacity to deal, manage and absorb the migration-related issues ranging from security to the economy, social services to education.
In this context, defining the needs and situation of migrants and refugees in the COVID-19 era in Turkey and other related countries have the utmost importance for directing efforts and policies on it. So this project, first and foremost, aims at adding migrant knowledge and understanding to all related professionals in the long run. Targeting university students who will be active participants of public services, academia, private sectors, and overall society after graduation is a strategic choice of this project to reach that goal in the long run. Creating and developing a module of learning programs both conventional and digital is the preferred method in this project. These learning programs include academic and policy-related pieces of training as well as language modules. Language modules are attached because the language spoken by most migrants and refugees are not available in many tertiary institutions such as Somali, Dari and etc.