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MSF in Turkey, 2011
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In 2011, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in Turkey provided mental health support to migrants in Istanbul and survivors of the earthquakes in Van.
Undocumented migrants have no access to health services in Turkey. In June 2011, MSF signed a partnership agreement with a Turkish non-governmental organization (NGO), the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, to provide assistance to undocumented migrants living in Istanbul. Teams provide aid to the most vulnerable, including women, children and the elderly, in 10 of Istanbul’s municipalities. The majority of patients have been through traumatic events and are now facing problems relating to integrating in a new environment.
Psychologists provided mental health support, while community health workers and interpreters assisted the clinical team and conducted outreach with the migrant communities, community organizations and Turkish health facilities. Almost 940 group counseling sessions were held in 2011.
The two earthquakes that struck eastern Turkey in October and November killed at least 500 people and injured 2,500. An MSF team in Van worked with local authorities and two Turkish NGOs, Hayata Destek and the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, distributing 2,000 winter tents and 2,000 cooking kits to 12,000 people in 37 villages in Van.
MSF started a two-month psychological support program in 31 villages in December. By the end of the program, 3,470 women and 1,850 men had benefited from group sessions, and 53 people received individual counseling. Patients in a more serious condition were referred to Van hospital.
At the end of 2011, MSF had 8 staff in Turkey. MSF first worked in the country in 1999.