Largest EU humanitarian programme helps around 1.4 million refugees in Turkey

Published on 25 September 2018

By providing the most vulnerable families with a debit card, the ESSN programme allows them to pay rent and bills or choose which food to eat. Copyright: WFP/Nazire Uzen

BRUSSELS – Two years after its launch, the largest humanitarian relief programme in European Union (EU) history is supporting around 1.4 million refugees in Turkey. The scheme is funded entirely from the EU’s Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRIT), generously supported by EU citizens through the Member States’ contribution.

 
Turkey is home to the largest refugee population in the world, currently nearly 4 million refugees, the majority of whom are from Syria. The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme provides the most vulnerable of these refugee families with cash assistance every month. 
 
The impact of this support is now being presented to EU audiences through The #IncredibleOrdinary shop in Paris, Milan, Warsaw, Berlin and Amsterdam – an experiential exhibit showcasing the stories of eight refugee families who benefit from the programme. In their own words, the families explain how a seemingly ordinary item, made possible thanks to ESSN support, had incredible meaning for them.
  
EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said: "The ESSN is the EU's largest ever humanitarian programme, helping around 1.4 million refugees in Turkey. The European Union is committed to supporting those who are vulnerable and have fled war and persecution, and stands in solidarity with the Turkish people who have shown great generosity in hosting nearly four million refugees. The EU and its Member States are helping to bring stability, dignity of choice and hope to the refugees in Turkey. Thanks to the European citizens this programme is making a real difference to the lives of people who are in need."
 
With humanitarian funding of €1 billion so far from the European Commission and EU Member States, the project is implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent and supported by Turkey.
 
WFP Executive Director David Beasley said: “In the two years since its launch, the Emergency Social Safety Net programme has grown to be the largest of its kind in United Nations history. But more important than its size is the impact it makes on the real people it serves. It not only helps them feed their families, it gives them independence, it helps them keep their children in school and it allows them the chance to live as close to home as possible. This programme is now a model for how we can help people in protracted crises around the world.” 
 
Since the ESSN programme started in 2016, the number of beneficiary parents withdrawing their children from school has dropped by more than 50 percent, according to preliminary data from a new WFP report. There has also been a 45 percent decrease in the number of parents who say they have to eat less themselves in order to ensure their children eat enough. Families who said they were forced to move in order to make ends meet fell by 48 percent.
 
By providing the most vulnerable families with a debit card, the ESSN programme allows them to pay rent and bills or choose which food to eat. The assistance gives families a crucial measure of control over their lives. Eligible families receive 120 Turkish Liras (currently about €16) per month for each family member, plus quarterly top-ups.
 
For refugees in Turkey the ability to make ordinary choices is an incredible step forward. To acknowledge and celebrate everyone’s right to the ordinary, WFP and the EU are sharing stories of families supported by the ESSN at The #IncredibleOrdinary shops which will pop up across the EU between 25 September and 18 October.
 
                                         #                           #                            #
 
Visit www.incredibleordinary.com to find out more about the #IncredibleOrdinary campaign. 
 
For further information about the EU’s humanitarian support for refugees in Turkey please check https://ec.europa.eu/echo/where/europe/turkey_en. 
 
The United Nations World Food Programme - saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.
 
The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need all around the world. The EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), helps over 120 million victims of conflict and disasters every year. 
 
Follow us on Twitter: 
• WFP: @wfp_media, @WFP_Europe, @wfp_mena
• ECHO: @eu_echo, @ECHO_Turkey
 
For more information please contact:
WFP (e-mail address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
• Martin Penner, WFP/Ankara, Mob.  +90 537 397 8736
• Aneta Szczyglowska, WFP/Brussels, Mob. +32 25000913
 
European Commission:
• Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela, Spokesperson's Service/Brussels, +32 2 296 53 22, mobile: +32 460 79 17 16, e-mail: carlos.martin@ec.europa.eu
Daniel Puglisi, Spokesperson's Service/Brussels, +32 2 296 91 40, mobile: +32 460 76 73 74, e-mail: daniel.puglisi@ec.europa.eu