EU-funded cash programme gives refugees freedom and dignity to choose

Four years ago, Mrs. Atala and her family took the harrowing journey to Turkey’s southern district of Gaziantep to avoid the escalating conflict in Syria. Before the war began, they lived well within their means, running a successful tailoring business. Now, the family of 14 lives in a single worn-out apartment located in a crowded neighbourhood in Gaziantep.

Mrs. Atala said: “Turkey is very nice; they have been very helpful for us. But hopefully, the war ends and we can go back to our country.” 

Mrs. Atala is one of more than 1.7 million people who are now able to meet their critical needs such as food and rent through cash assistance from the Turkish Red Crescent with IFRC support, thanks to funding from the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). 

Through prepaid debit cards - known as Kizilaykart, the most vulnerable refugee families receive 120 Turkish Liras (18 euros) every month. This enables them to support their families with their most pressing needs, such as rent, utilities, food, and health care. 

“We can pay our bills now by Kizilaykart,” said Mrs. Atala, as her great-grandchildren scurry around her. Moments like this fill their room with laughter.

The Kizilaykart can be used anywhere where debit cards are accepted, allowing refugees the freedom to buy what they need with dignity.

*This story was originally published on Turkish Red Crescent’s website and adapted by the IFRC.

This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.