Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)

We are providing cash assistance to more than 1.5 million refugees living in Turkey through a partnership between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Turkish Red Crescent Society and with funding from the European Union.

Turkey is home to the largest refugee population in the world. The country hosts more than 4 million refugees, many of whom are from Syria and fleeing a ten-year long conflict. It is estimated that over 98% of refugees in Turkey are living outside of camps.

Funded by the European Union and its member states under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme provides monthly cash assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey.

Every month, each family member receives 155 Turkish Lira (approximately 16 euros), enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food and medicine. The programme offers additional quarterly top-ups based on family size, with special payments to families with members who require specialised care.

The ESSN is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and the largest programme ever implemented by the IFRC.

Our impact

80% of families

are able to afford their basic necessities like food, rent and utilities

1 in 2 people

have said the cash assistance helped manage their debt

77% of families

are able to maintain an adequate nutritious diet

Watch: Celebrating one year of improving the lives of refugees

What people say

Kevser, a Syrian woman who fled her country in 2015 with her family to seek a safer life in Turkey, uses cash assistance provided by the IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent to buy food and essentials at a local shop

Kevser, a Syrian woman who fled her country in 2015 with her family to seek a safer life in Turkey, uses cash assistance provided by the IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent to buy food and essentials at a local shop

Photo: IFRC/Corrie Butler

We lost everything during the war. We came to Turkey and started from zero. The assistance has been crucial for us to pay the rent and bills. Turkish Red Crescent changed our life. I attended courses, became more active, I feel powerful.

Kevser

A woman who fled Syria with her family in 2015 to seek a safer life in Turkey

Why cash?

The IFRC has been leading large-scale cash programmes for decades in response to a wide range of disasters around the globe.

Cash is a very effective, efficient and transparent way to provide humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities. It can help humanitarian aid go even further to help more people in need. And cash support can have longer-lasting positive impacts than other kinds of aid as it takes into consideration the needs specific to each person, community and emergency.

Cash also gives families the freedom, dignity and independence to take control of their own lives. 

Many refugees are unable to reach basic goods and services due to years-long displacement and limited access to the job market. Having access to a fixed amount of money every month gives them the ability to choose and the independence they need to address their families’ needs. It also helps them to engage with, and contribute to, the communities hosting them.

Related documents

15/04/2021

pdf (1.86 MB)

Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Monthly Report: March 2021

15/04/2021 | pdf (1.86 MB)

Read more

15/03/2021

pdf (2.5 MB)

Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Monthly Report: February 2021

15/03/2021 | pdf (2.5 MB)

Read more

15/03/2021

pdf (5.43 MB)

Impact of COVID-19 on Daily Life of Refugees In Turkey

15/03/2021 | pdf (5.43 MB)

Read more

02/03/2021

pdf (1.16 MB)

Cash Assistance In Times of COVID-19: Impacts on refugees living ...

02/03/2021 | pdf (1.16 MB)

Read more

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This web page 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.