Ankara, Turkey (19 August 2020): Syrian refugees and Turkish people are coming together to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey and around the world. Since the pandemic began, over 120 volunteers and community members across Turkey have mobilized to produce more than 1.2 million masks to help people protect themselves from COVID-19.
Since 2015, Turkish Red Crescent, has been playing a crucial role in bringing Turkish and Syrian people together through its 16 community centres which 15 are them financed by the European Union. These centres are increasing livelihood opportunities, providing community-based health and first aid, giving psychosocial support.
Nearly 251,805 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Turkey since March, but cases are now lower since a spike in April. Although restrictions have begun to ease in the country, masks remain mandatory to help curb new infections.
Through the sewing courses offered in the community centres, refugee and Turkish communities began producing masks after seeing the massive demand for personal protective equipment. The mask production first started in Gaziantep, one of the most important textile manufacturing centres in Turkey and expanded quickly to other cities.
Volunteers are also producing masks specifically for people with disabilities. The masks have a transparent front, which helps people who are deaf-mute communicate easily.
Turkish Red Crescent has sent masks and PPE items to 40 countries including Georgia, Uganda, Tajikistan and many others since the pandemic started.
Around 250,000 people receive support from the Turkish Red Crescent community centres every year with the support from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and funding from the European Union as part of its refugee response in Turkey.