Meetings and field visits in Ankara, Şanlıurfa and Harran to support Syrians and local communities through cooperatives

News | 15 August 2016
On 26 July 2016, there was a meeting at ILO Office in Turkey to discuss the role of cooperatives in supporting Syrian refugees and local communities and to develop cooperation in this regard with the participation of representatives from the General Directorate of Cooperatives, Ministry of Customs and Trade, Development Workshop, and Foundation for the Support of Women's Work (KEDV), and Simel Eşim, Head of the Cooperative Unit of ILO-Geneva as well as staff from ILO Office in Turkey.

The meeting started with Simel Eşim’s presentation highlighting the work by ILO country offices to support cooperatives and the role of cooperatives in the refugee crisis. In her presentation, Eşim drew attention to the active role that cooperatives play together with government institutions, local authorities and international organizations in refugee support programmes implemented in such countries as Italy, Germany, Finland and Canada. Following this presentation, the General Directorate of Cooperatives and other cooperative representatives shared their opinions and suggestions on supporting Syrian refugees and their subsistence through cooperatives and discussed their present activities as well as some legal challenges that cooperatives presently face.

The preparatory meeting in Ankara was followed by field visits to Şanlıurfa and Harran on 27-28 June. Field visits by Simel Eşim, Head of the Cooperative Unit of ILO-Geneva, and staff from ILO-Ankara sought to conduct observations on presently active and prospective cooperatives in South-eastern Anatolia, examine the ways of supporting the livelihoods opportunities for host communities and Syrian refugees through cooperatives, and to explore possible channels of cooperation in this regard. On July 27th, the mission met representatives from Mardin Medrese Gül, Mardin Medresebaşı and Mardin İstasyon Multi-purpose Community Centres (ÇATOM) and from Kilis Development Cooperative hosted by the GAP Regional Development Administration. During this meeting, the mission discussed with local representatives the ways of supporting host communities and Syrian refugees on the basis of existing cooperatives.

Meeting at GAP Administration in Şanlıurfa with representatives from ÇATOM-Mardin and Kilis Development Cooperative

On July 28th, the mission visited Harran District Governor Temel Ayca in his office and discussed possible channels of cooperation through the Family Support Centre and wood carving workshop that are presently active under the district governorate.

Simel Eşim, Head of ILO Cooperative Unit, and representatives from ILO Office in Turkey visited Temel Ayca, Harran District Governor

Following this interview, the mission visited felt, ceramic and carpet workshops at Family Support Centre and woodcarving workshops run jointly by ILO and Harran District Governorate. The visiting mission had interviews with Syrian and local women attending these courses, and before leaving Harran, also visited the Temporary Sheltering Centre in Harran.

Challenges in marketing and promotion were priority issues raised in both discussions in Ankara and during field visits to Şanlıurfa and Harran. As a result of discussions and field visits, there was consensus on firstly supporting existing women-intensive cooperatives in the fields of promotion, marketing and branding as a way of enhancing the livelihoods opportunities for both Syrian and local women.

Simel Eşim, Head of ILO-Geneva Cooperative Unit is with trainees in Harran Woodcarving Workshop

Simel Eşim, Head of ILO-Geneva Cooperative Unit in conversation with women from Syria and Harran who receive training in felt working at Harran Family Support Centre

Wooden toys from woodcarving workshop in Harran

Lampshades produced by trainees in ceramic works at Harran Family Support Centre

Purses produced by women attending Mardin Meydanbaşı ÇATOM

From feltworks course at Harran Family Support Centre