Estonian PM Visits IOM’s Turkish Hub for Operations in Southern Turkey, Northern Syria During Country’s EU Presidency


Gaziantep – Yesterday (15/08), Jüri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, visited the IOM, UN Migration Agency, offices in Gaziantep. Turkey’s southern city, close to the Syrian border, is the hub for IOM’s emergency response operations in southern Turkey and northern Syria.

Prime Minister Ratas toured IOM’s office in Gaziantep where IOM programmes provide life-saving assistance, protection services and help build resilience of Syrian refugees as well as internally displaced in northern Syria.  IOM assistance to refugees and internally displaced Syrians include emergency and livelihood support, vocational trainings and psychosocial support.

IOM’s emergency response has provided humanitarian assistance to nearly two million Syrians living in Turkey and northern Syria.  By procuring items locally, IOM is working to support both the refugee and the community hosting them.

Prime Minister Ratas also met with Syrians visiting IOM’s Family Assistance Programme (FAP). This programme has helped over 170,000 people in Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon complete the family reunification visa paperwork and reunite with family members, who already have refugee status in Germany. FAP is one way IOM works to provide safe and dignified options to migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe.  Women and children constitute 83 per cent of people assisted by FAP.

“Millions of people have been devastated by the Syrian crisis. The international community must develop long-term strategies to help the millions of people in need. This requires strong coordination between donors and host governments, but also more lasting solutions like the family assistance and resettlement programmes, which offer refugees the opportunity to rebuild what war destroyed,” said Rex Alamban, Head of IOM office in Gaziantep. 

Now in its seventh year, the crisis in Syria has displaced over 10 million people within and out of Syria.  With over 71,000 people internally displaced in July alone, Syria now contains over 6 million internally displaced people.  Nearly a half million individuals (471,885) inside Syria are without adequate shelter.

Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population with over 3.1 million Syrians living under temporary protection there. IOM’s programmes currently have an operational budget of USD 140 million in Turkey. However, IOM issued an appeal earlier this year to help fund its support to Syrian refugees in the countries neighbouring Syria. It is still underfunded by 90 per cent overall.

For more information, please contact Abby Dwommoh at IOM Turkey, Tel: +90 312 454 3048, Email:


  • Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (centre) visits IOM Turkey’s offices in Gaziantep on 15 August 217. Photo: IOM 2017

  • PM Ratas listens to IOM presentations on emergency operations in Turkey.

  • Prime Minister Ratas observes IOM providing assistance to Syrian man to complete family reunification visa.