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The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN): Providing cash to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey

Photo credit: Jonny Hogg, WFP
Photo credit: Jonny Hogg, WFP

Turkey is home to the largest refugee population in the world, hosting over 3.2 million refugees.

The vast majority of the refugees have fled the conflict in Syria and live outside the refugee camps under challenging conditions and are struggling to build stable, normal lives.

In collaboration with the World Food Programme, the Turkish Red Crescent and Turkish government institutions, the EU launched its biggest humanitarian programme yet: the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), a single card social assistance scheme that will allow up to 1.3 million of the most vulnerable refugees to meet their most pressing basic needs. 

The ESSN scheme provides refugees with a debit card which gives them access to a fixed amount of money every month. They can use the money to buy whatever they need most for their families: food, fuel, rent, medicine and bills. This also promotes social cohesion and creates a positive impact on host communities by allowing the refugees to participate in the daily life of the community and contribute to the local economy. Refugee families currently receive 120 Turkish Liras (about €30) per family member per month, with an additional quarterly top-up depending on the size of the family.

The ESSN card can be used in shops, just like a normal debit card. But it is not just a cash card. It’s an acknowledgement that, despite their hardships, refugees should have the dignity to choose how to manage their own lives.

The funds supporting the ESSN are part of the “EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey,” created as a response to the EU Member States’ call for significant additional funding to support refugees in   Turkey. The Facility is designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. There are currently 35 humanitarian projects being funded through the Facility in Turkey.

/echo/file/essn-stability-millions-refugee-families-turkey_enESSN: Stability for millions of refugee families in Turkey

In Nour’s story we learned how simple items provided by parents through the ESSN card mean a lot in a child’s world. As part of its efforts to raise awareness about the ESSN, the EU, WFP and Turkish Red Crescent asked children’s book illustrators across Europe to help us understand the impact of these essentials for giving child refugees a renewed sense of hope. See the results here.

Follow the #ESSN campaign on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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