"Every individual has a right to live free from violence and discrimination and to access reproductive health services"

19 January 2018

19 January 2018, Bursa – Yıldırım Migrant Centre and Women and Girls Safe Spaces were opened officially with a ceremony in Bursa. The centre is run by the Provincial Health Directorate of Bursa, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM) is financed by the European Union and the Republic of Turkey through United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR). 

United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Representative for Turkey Karl Kulessa said in his remarks: "Women and children constitute the majority of the migrant population; 15 per cent of whom are women at reproductive age. This group is characterised by greater vulnerability and with many, though in most cases neglected, specific needs especially when armed conflicts and crisis occur.  We believe, as UNFPA, that ensuring a safe, dignified and healthy life – especially with respect to reproductive health - for women and girls is of great importance both for the welfare of their families and societies they are part of. We open this centre to protect and empower women and girls who have been forced to flee their homelands due to war".

İbrahim Vurgun Kavlak, General Coordinator of the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM) that is one of the implementing partners of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who also spoke at the ceremony, said that Turkey is the country that has opened its doors to the largest group of refugees, further stating that such centres play a major role with regard to the migrants’ health in Turkey.  


Another guest who made a speech during the opening ceremony of the centre was Jean Marie Garelli, Deputy Representative of United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR). In his speech, Garelli especially underlined the support Turkey grants to refugees: "It is an honour for me to welcome you, on behalf of UNHCR, to the opening ceremony of this Women and Girls Safe Space, supporting the refugee women and girls in Bursa. Today an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home by wars, conflict and persecution. Among them over 22.5 million are refugees, half of whom are under the age of 18. In addition, women and girls make up some 50 per cent of the refugee, internally displaced or stateless population all around the world. Hosting the world’s largest refugee population, the Turkish government has long stood out for its national ownership, leadership and financial investment in responding to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers residing in its territory." UNHCR Deputy Representative Garelli continued to add that "the centre we are opening here today, aims at increasing access of female refugees to reproductive health services and the provision of reproductive health kits; which will improve the health status of Syrian women and girls, in particular."

Özcan Arıkan, Head of the Provincial Health Directorate of Bursa also spoke during the opening ceremony: "I thank everyone for being with us today. The area where the centre is located is an area that hosts the highest number of refugees in Bursa. We have signed protocols with several bodies such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), so that we can provide highest quality health services within international standards. We are truly happy that we can mutually benefit from the experiences from United Nations Population Fund’s gained in the field to meet the needs of women with respect to their reproductive health. We are also very grateful to UNFPA Turkey Office for the support they have provided us."

Bennur Karaburun, Bursa AK Party MP, also spoke during the ceremony, saying that it is of great value that refugees also receive due attention within the health services. Especially emphasizing the strives of Turkey to support refugees from the very beginning, she said that projects supported by the United Nations, as is the case in the opening of this centre, also provide an additional contribution in this respect.  

İzzettin Küçük, Governor of Bursa, who also held a speech during the event, said: "Turkey is the top country in respect to providing support to people, communities and countries in needs adversely affected by the hardships stemmed from the clashes. This is our humanistic duty. Darkness means lack of light. Where there is light, the darkness ceases to exist. Such initiatives and projects like these health centres shine a light into darkness. We must strengthen, encourage and support this light to continue on shining."

Women and Girls Safe Spaces run by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are safe spaces where women and girls can get information and health services regarding sexual and reproductive health, women’s rights, psycho-social support and be trained and educated in the related skills in an environment where they can also re-establish their social networks without any fear of being stigmatised.

United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Turkey Office has been working on projects since 2011 within the framework of the Humanitarian Programme. In this context, Women and Girls Safe Spaces have been developed as a fundamental strategy with the aim to empower women and girls as a group more neglected and more vulnerable in crisis and disasters. 

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS)

One in three women in the world marries before the age of 18. Unless essential and effective studies are conducted about child marriages, it is expected that the number of women who marry at a young age will reach 1.2 billion as of 2050. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Turkey Office has been offering capacity development, service provision, reproductive health services and hygiene supplies in women's health and violence against women within the scope of the Humanitarian Aid Program since 2011.

In this respect, Safe Spaces for Women and Girls (WGSS) have started to forge cooperation with various organizations. The centers established in various cities in 2017 with the support from the European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), US Government, Swedish Government and Japanese Government mainly operate in sexual and reproductive health, gender based violence, psycho-social support, empowerment and supply distribution for asylum seeker women and girls.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was established in 1969 and as the biggest aid source with international funding in the area of population operating around the world. UNFPA operates in more than 150 countries for creating policies and strategies that support sustainable development. Having started its activities on a project basis, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been working on reproductive health, encouraging social gender equality, collecting, using and distributing data about development and humanitarian aid in Turkey since 1971. Within this framework, the first Country Program lasted from 1988 to 1992 and now the Sixth Country Program (2016-2020) is being executed.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. To this end, UNFPA focuses especially 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); 

  • SDG 3: Good health and well-being, 
  • SDG 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17: Partnerships for Goals

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