The number of refugees in Turkey receiving monthly cash assistance through an innovative relief programme has now reached 500 000 and continues to rise. The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme is a partnership between EU Humanitarian Aid, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish government.
The European Union is funding this cash assistance programme (ESSN) in order to support the most vulnerable refugee families in Turkey with a debit card to cover basic needs such as food, rent, medicine and clothes.
The cards can be used in shops, like any debit card, or they can be used to withdraw cash from an ATM. The programme provides 100 Turkish Lira (roughly €26) for each member of vulnerable families every month. Registration began in November 2016 and continues across the country with the goal of assisting at least one million refugees in 2017.
“The card helps me immensely with buying food and paying the rent. Getting by without it would be difficult because I have a big family,” said Şaban, a Syrian refugee who currently lives in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep with his mother, wife and six children.
"Reaching half a million people in less than six months is an enormous accomplishment. Traditional aid delivery would take much longer, cost more and not address what people really need: a basic income to cover their everyday needs. By teaming up with humanitarian actors and the government of Turkey we will soon be able to reach at least twice that number of people in need,” said Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
The number of refugees in Turkey has reached over 3.2 million, making Turkey the host country with the largest refugee population in the world.
About 90% of Syrian refugees in Turkey remain outside of camp settings with limited access to basic services. The European Commission is providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable refugees, particularly to those living outside of camps. The total humanitarian funding provided by the EU to Turkey since the beginning of the crisis amounts to over €664 million.