UNICEF Global     TR

* It is clear from all sections of this Situation Analysis that not all children and young people have the same chances of enjoying their rights. In many respects, girls are disadvantaged compared to boys. They are less likely to enjoy their rights to education, leisure, information, and full participation in society, and more vulnerable to all forms of sexual violence. Boys are more likely to face some other forms of violence and exploitation and to be involved in accidents, addictions and conflict with the law. This section focuses on the situation of specific populations of children and young people the members of which are especially unlikely to benefit from some or all of their rights. These are: children and young people with disabilities; children and young people living in rural areas, underdeveloped regions or poor urban settings; children and young people growing up amid political violence; Roma children and youth, and young migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. These populations overlap, and children and young people who fall into more than one of them are likely to be especially disadvantaged. Prioritising the rights of these populations would be the quickest path to the more equitable achievement of child and youth rights and well-being. In most cases, however, specific policies and programmes are not currently in force, at either sectoral or cross-sectoral level.

* Despite commitment from the government, boys and girls at risk of disability – and especially those from poor backgrounds - are still often unable to benefit fully from their rights in the same way as, and alongside, their peers. Key requirements are: changes in social norms and attitudes concerning the rights and potentials of persons with all kinds of disability and their integration into society; improved systems for identification, data and monitoring; more comprehensive social services and social protection; a renewed drive for inclusive education, and improvements in physical access in all settings.

* Children and young people in underdeveloped regions and rural areas are clearly disadvantaged with respect to nutrition, health and education outcomes, services and opportunities. They may also be deprived or at risk in other ways. However, no specific policies have been devised for ensuring their rights and well-being.

* In addition to poverty and lack of social security, children and young people in poor urban areas face a series of disadvantages, threats and risks specific to city life and the urban environment. The needs of children and young people may vary significantly from one poor urban area to another.

* Children and young people from Roma populations live in difficult conditions and face especially high barriers in accessing their rights and fulfilling their potentials. As experience in neighbouring countries has shown, their social inclusion will require a major, multi-sectoral effort. However, Turkey has remained reluctant to adopt specific policies or collect specific data for any ethnic group.

* Children and young people living amid the political tensions and violence in Southeast Turkey experience psychological stresses and a significant risk of physical injury, in addition to material deprivation and inequity in public services. Many come into conflict with the law and some are recruited by the PKK, which frequently leads to a violent death. Only piecemeal activities are being carried out to improve the lives of these children and young people.

* Some children and young people among those applying to the UNHCR for refugee status receive social assistance and health care and are able to attend school, but opportunities and conditions for others are much less favourable.  Children and young people also make up a high proportion of the irregular migrants who are frequently intercepted - and sometimes lose their lives - seeking to enter Europe via Turkey.

 

9.1 Children and young people experiencing disability

Today, it is recognised all persons can experience disability at some time in their lives, and that persons are disabled as much by environmental and social conditions and perceptions as by their own personal characteristics. The 2011 ‘World report on disability’, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, (http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/en/index.htm) suggests that more than a billion people in the world experience disability. People with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives. In Turkey, too, many people experience disability, although statistics may be old or incomplete. Congenital malformation due to consanguinal marriages is just one of the causes. According to the Disability Survey conducted by the Turkish Statistical Institute (Turkstat) in 2002, which focused mainly on severe forms of disability, 2.6 per cent of the population was disabled and 9.7 per cent had a permanent illness. Of the persons included in the National Disabled People Database in 2010, 29% were intellectually disabled, 26% had chronic illnesses, 18% had multiple disabilities, 9% were orthopedically disabled, 8.4% were visually disabled, 6% had hearing impairments, 3.9% were mentally and emotionally disabled and 0.2% had language and speech impairments. Males made up 58.6% of the registered disabled individuals and females 41.4%.

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9.2 Children and young people in underdeveloped regions and rural areas

It is no secret that Turkey displays striking inequalities among its regions, and between urban and rural areas. What is less frequently recognised is that children are among the worst affected by these inequalities. Underdeveloped regions: Turkstat data for the 26 “level 2” statistical regions shows that per capita national income in 2008 ranged from US$14,591 in Istanbul to US$3,419 in the Eastern region comprising Van, Muş, Bitlis and Hakkari. Employment and social security data also indicate that a far smaller proportion of the population are in regular employment in the Eastern and Southeastern provinces than in western provinces. In general, people have a relatively low level of education, and dynamic elements among the population may have left for other parts of the country. Although the state has brought infrastructure and basic services to all parts of the country, differences in the quantity and quality of these appear to accentuate the regional differences in economic conditions. Power cuts may be more frequent, for example, streets less well surfaced and lit, and turnover among teachers or health staff higher.

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9.3 Children and young people in poor urban areas

Globally, the issue of poverty among urban children has been highlighted in UNICEF’s flagship State of the World’s Children report for 2012, entitled “Children in an Urban World” (http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SOWC_2012-Main_Report_EN_13Mar2012.pdf - executive summary in Turkish at: http://panel.unicef.org.tr/vera/app/var/files/d/u/dünya-çocuklarinin-durumu-2012.pdf). This comprehensive report calls for fairer and more inclusive cities that put children first.

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9.4 Roma children and young people

As population data (like most other data) in Turkey is never broken down by ethnic group in Turkey, the total numbers of the Roma are unknown. They have been estimated at anywhere between 0.5 million and 2.5 million. Some of the Roma may still lead a partly rural and/or nomadic life, working in agriculture or other often-seasonal work, or moving from place to sell various goods. The great majority, however, appear to have a settled life-style, making up a section of the urban poor in Edirne, Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Ankara and numerous other Turkish cities. For the most part, at least, they speak Turkish and espouse Islam, but still retain, to a degree, their own customs, habits, values and tastes. There are also understood to be communities of Dom and Lom in southeast and northeast Turkey respectively.

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9.5 Children and young people growing up amid political violence

Children growing up in those provinces, cities, districts and neighbourhoods of East and Southeast Turkey which are most intensively affected by terrorism, military and police activity and/or civil unrest face specific risks, and experience specific disadvantages, which seriously threaten their access to almost all of their rights and are likely to have long-term effects on their well-being. Physical risks which children in urban and/or rural areas face include bomb explosions, cross-fire, landmines and accidents involving unexploded munitions. Incidents of these kinds which result in death or serious injury are reported in the Turkish media at least once a month. As state institutions, schools are occasionally targeted in acts of terrorism, putting children’s lives at risk. Several of the 34 civilians killed in the Uludere incident of December 2011, in which Turkish jets attacked villagers engaged in border trade/smuggling, apparently after mistaking them for terrorists, were reported to be boys under the age of 18.

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9.6 Young migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

As of March 2012, there were 211,473 foreign citizens living in Turkey with residence permits. Of these, 20,740 held work permits, 31,282 were students and the remainder were allowed to live in Turkey as spouses, relatives, dependents, retirees and so on. 48% of the resident permit-holders were from “Europe” and 44% from “Asia”. However, these foreign residents make up only a small part of a large and fluctuating foreign population. In 2011, over 29 million foreigners entered the country at ports, airports and border crossings, and a similar number departed. While the vast majority were foreign holiday-makers on short-term visits, the figure also includes business and commercial travellers, people from neighbouring and other countries with relatives and friends in Turkey, and an unknown number of foreigners from the Caucasus, Russia, other parts of the former Soviet Union and other countries who work temporarily and/or informally either as domestic servants or in industry, construction, entertainment and other service sectors (Press reports of June 2012 gave figure of 200,000 such workers, citing a report of the Istanbul Chamber of Certified Public Accountants – İSMMMO; Turkey does not require visas for short term visits by citizens of many countries, including countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia). Foreigners also travel to Turkey to escape political or economic conditions in their own countries, sometimes without using official border points, and often with a view to eventual residence in other countries. Under international law, Turkey is responsible for upholding the human rights of all these foreigners permanently or temporarily on its territory. In the case of children, signatories to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child agree to respect and ensure the rights set forth in the Convention to “each child within their jurisdiction”, as well as to provide special protection and humanitarian assistance to refugee children including those separated from their families.

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UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org