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A digital self-assessment tool for refugees living in Turkey

A tool that serves 3,9 millions of refugees to resolve the confusion caused by different legislations in Turkey.

Photo of Onur Ünaldı

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

According to UNHCR, refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan forms 57% of all refugees around the world. Almost 80% of refugees live in countries neighbouring their country of origin (UNHCR, 2019). As a neighbouring country of Syria, Turkey has experienced one of the biggest refugee influx since WWII following Syria crisis in 2013. As of April 2019, Turkey accommodates 3,9 million refugees which is the highest number of refugees in a particular country in the world. Official records of UNHCR and Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) of Turkey indicate that 3,6 million of overall refugee population are Syrian while rest is Iranian, Afghan, Iraqi, Somalian and other countries. Currently, all registered refugees from Syria are subject to Temporary Protection Law of Turkey. On the other hand, asylum seekers fled from any other country are subject to International Protection Law. Differences in legislation, which creates differences in given rights to benefit from social services including education, health services, work permits, and social assistance, gives rise to confusion among refugees and host community. Although refugees in Turkey have the right to benefit from many the services just like citizens; lack of reliable information, language barriers and prejudices of Turkish people make it difficult to reach the services for refugees. Our solution is to make a specialized website that refugees can conduct a self-assessment and find relevant information on the rights and services they are entitled to according to their legal status. The information on the website is planned to include but not limited with basic services like education, health, services of humanitarian NGOs but also legal documents (laws, regulations etc.) translated to user’s mother language.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The idea focuses on refugees living in Turkey which is a group of 3,9 millions of people according to official records. While Turkish government operates 11 refugee camps, these camps accommodate less than 1 per cent of the total number. Rest of the concerned group mostly lives in suburbs in 81 provinces of Turkey. The tool that we aim to create will cover the whole nation and has the potential to extend the area with the inclusion of future partner organizations’ services in other countries.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

There are arguments throughout the Turkish citizens on the services that refugees benefit. While most of them are not true, they have the potential to create prejudice and tension between refugee and host community. Website will serve both to the refugee and host community. It will serve also in Turkish and will reveal the correct information that refugees are entitled. It is assumed that correct information will decrease the prejudices and increase the social cohesion of communities.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

In Turkey the civil society and governmental initiatives for the people on the move improved tremendously. However, language barrier and the lack of useful information for people on the move still creates problems and confusion. With this idea, we aim to make refugees’ experience less challenging. From our own experience, we have known that fulfilling emotional needs such as joy and hope, is related to meaningful participation in employment, education, and other services such as information regarding to legal rights and services. With the tool we plan to establish, refugees can easily access to basic services and information and live with dignity and freestanding. It will also enable them to have more hope towards the new and probably the most difficult chapter of their life. Moreover, since this tool will be available for all mobile devices with an internet connection, the project will impact the whole geography and it will possibly be the most inclusive initiative ever in the region.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Although there has been an influx of migrants in Turkey since 2013, there are still many different problems need to be solved. There are still people who are suffering extreme poverty or even people without any documentation that cannot access to any services including health. With the implementation of our idea, we hope to leave no people without documentation and access to basic needs. With our online tool, refugees can assess their own situation and choose the necessary services and organizations by themselves with dignity and enjoy their most basic needs and rights. Moreover, it will be a lot easier to navigate through this part of their journey in a totally new environment. They can easily access to any necessity they have without getting into conflict with any organization and/or individual legally, thanks to the legal information that we will provide. But more importantly, with the translation services we aim to eliminate the language barrier that people on the move suffer.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

As a group of professional humanitarian workers, we experienced many occasions ended up with frustration just because of lack of information. Since Syria Crisis has begun, local, national and international NGOs implemented many projects but there is no comprehensive system that direct the beneficiary to the needed service in their mother language. That makes these projects limited with their field operations and most of the time, most vulnerable people can not reach to these services. There are some initiatives which put some effort to create an integrated system but they ended up service or has very little information because of lack of funds and/or lack of identifying real needs of refugees. Through the tool that we propose, a smartphone with internet will be enough to identify all the services specialized with the legal status of the user. Also, the website will provide free translation and live chat service on 4 different languages including Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi and Turkish.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Turkey is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, maintaining the geographical limitation which is, asylum-seekers fled from Europe region are eligible to apply for the status “refugee”. Out of this geographical area, eligible asylum-seekers may stay in Turkey until their resettlement to a third country has done. While these cases will be treated under International Protection Law, people who fled from Syria will be under Temporary Protection Law. This difference reveals more differences between refugee groups living in Turkey. While these refugee groups do not form a homogeneous group, there is a common item that connects them to the rest of the world: smartphones. According to a sociology professor at The Open University in UK, these are the three most important items refugees take with them when they are forced to leave their homes. With the power of internet and smartphones, we aim to resolve the confusion that different refugee groups encounter on services they may benefit.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

There are approximately 3.9 million refugees living in Turkey and they come from different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. They don't even have the same status, rights and needs. That's why every different type of person needs services exactly catered for just for themselves. As part of the host community, we believe that a tool with consolidated data of local services, non-governmental and governmental organizations, legal and social information and counselling is crucial for all the refugees living in Turkey. Since these refugees have different issues, problems and experiences, only a team of host community members with the support from each refugee community can access this data and put them together for their use. We think our biggest strength and advantage is that we know how to reach that information and knowledge and we also have the necessary relationship with the refugees in order to disseminate that information and knowledge.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

To identify the real needs, a series of focus group discussions will be implemented in the inception part of the project. Also Key Informant Interviews will be conducted with the representatives of the different vulnerable groups within refugee communities. Other potential partners listed below, Signpost - An initiative founded by IRC and Mercy Corps aims to respond to need of refugees. They have ongoing projects in Greece, El Salvador and Jordan and their idea is similar to ours. So we already asked them to share their expertise in the field. ASAM - A national NGO working in humanitarian area in Turkey. They have several community services that serve refugees nationwide. Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundations throughout the nation. SASFs are governmental foundations that regulate and organize social assistance in Turkey. We already have a professional relationship with some of them and it is expected to build a relationship with more of these foundations.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Channel: A new way to deliver existing products or services to customers or end users

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

Etki Association

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

We are a group of humanitarian professionals that have extensive experience in the field. The team worked in many different international humanitarian organizations until now and what we see from the organizations and programs that most of the experience and knowledge comes from underdeveloped territories and rural areas. Unlike those locations, the reality is totally different in Turkey. That's why we decided to form Etki Association in order to respond and serve better with our knowledge of the region and the humanitarian experience that we got from international organizations. As Etki Association, we think something needs to be done in order to serve different communities better and the solution is to use technology as much as possible. The services need to be more dynamic and digitalized, and as young humanitarian professionals, the idea we propose reflect ourselves.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State



Join the conversation:

Photo of Sevde Şengün

Merhaba Onur Ünaldı 
Great to have your idea for the challenge.I am so glad to you do something for refugee in Turkey. Your touch points for solving misinformation and other barriers are exciting.The ideas phase comes to an end in a few days, before its expired could you clarify what are the results of the project so far in your blueprint phase? What are the insights so far?Also you can create a possible user and share with us
i.e. "journey map of Syrian refugee in Turkey " which is very important to integrate into this platform as you progress in the challenge!

I would suggest also to have a look at evaluation criteria again for last checking here
and the prototyping toolkit here as a guide to help you visualize the idea.

Lastly ,there are OpenIDEO teams in Istanbul and Ankara where you can contact for the development of your project and resource/network sharing. If you are interested in such collaboration, please feel free to reach me!

Photo of Onur Ünaldı

Dear Sevde,
Thank you for your constructive comment. We had to share a summary of our idea because of character limitations in this phase. We are planning to share a comprehensive user guide and a prototoype once our idea pass to the next phase. We would definitely want to collaborate with the Ankara team of OpenIDEO, I would be pleased if you assist us to meet with the team.


Photo of Sevde Şengün

Hello Onur , sorry my late reply I'm adding two members of the Ankara team here: Gonca Çamkerten  Melis Dursun  and you can reach Istanbul Chapter by , we'd love to meet you!Also you can check Istanbul Chapter's idea here :
our official page here:

good luck

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