The ESSN Card empowers vulnerable refugees in Turkey

Turkey has the largest refugee population in the world, with a total of nearly 4 million registered refugees.

The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme aims to help the most vulnerable of these refugee families. The scheme provides refugees with an ESSN 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. Refugee families receive 120 Turkish Liras (currently about 16 euros) per family member.

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Conflict in troubled areas such as Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan has displaced large numbers of people seeking refuge, safety and a better life.

Turkey has the largest refugee population in the world, with a total of nearly 4 million registered refugees. And contrary to popular belief, the majority of them don’t live in camps but in the poor areas of Turkey’s towns and cities, in challenging conditions and struggling to build stable, normal lives.

There are an estimated 150,000 children from Syria in Istanbul alone, some toddler even, left to fend for themselves on the streets of the city, struggling to get food and providing in part for their families, who resort to begging because they lack work permits.

The ESSN programme is the result of a partnership between the European Union and Turkey, implemented by WFP and the Turkish Red Crescent, working closely with the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Policy, the Ministry Of Interior Directorate General Of Migration Management and the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.

The programme builds on the hospitality and generosity of the Turkish people and the Turkish Government towards refugees. It is unique because it is implemented through government structures and systems. At an unprecedented scale, international humanitarian organizations and government services are reaching out to refugees across Turkey in a way that is efficient, effective and sustainable.