ANKARA – Thousands of refugees in Turkey are receiving monthly cash assistance to help cover essential needs such as food, rent, medicine and warm clothing for winter through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), a major innovative relief programme funded by the European Union.
The first group of vulnerable families received debit cards with their first cash transfers in December 2016. The cards are loaded every month with 100 Turkish Lira (roughly €28) per family member. Meanwhile, across the country, registration continues for the programme, which aims to assist one million refugees in the first half of 2017.
“I received the card at a very tough time in my life,” said Um Youssef, a widow and mother of two from Aleppo who has been struggling with putting food on the table and paying rent. “The second I received the card, I started withdrawing cash and paid my rent,” she added.
Abu Abdullah, another refugee whose wife is battling cancer, said, “This assistance will help us get by while I do everything I can to continue my wife’s medical treatment.”
The ESSN programme is a partnership between the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish government, and will deliver much-needed cash support to families most in need.
“The ESSN is not only the EU’s largest single humanitarian project ever,” said Jane Lewis, Head of the ECHO office in Ankara. “It is also unique as it uses the Turkish social welfare system to implement a humanitarian project. It demonstrates what we can achieve by working together in such a strong partnership: the EU, Turkey, and WFP.”
“With the EU’s generous support, we all came together to reaffirm our commitment to the families, children and individuals struggling to get by and to the Turkish Government, whose hospitality continues to stand as an example to the whole world,” said Jean-Yves Lequime, WFP Country Representative in Turkey.
Turkey is generously hosting the largest refugee population in the world, an estimated three million people, the majority of whom were uprooted from their homes in neighbouring Syria. With more than 90 percent living outside refugee camps, in cities and villages across Turkey, hundreds of thousands are struggling to overcome very challenging conditions and rely on this form of assistance for survival.
WFP signed the partnership agreement with the EU in September 2016. It is the largest contribution ever received for WFP operations in Turkey.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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