Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)

The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme, run by the IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent Society and funded by the European Union, provided regular cash assistance to more than 1.5 million refugees living in Türkiye.

About the programme

Türkiye is home to the largest refugee population in the world. The country hosts more than 4 million refugees, many of whom have fled conflict in Syria. 

Funded by the European Union and its member states under the Facility for Refugees in Türkiye, the ESSN provided monthly cash assistance via prepaid debit cards—called 'Kizilaykart' or 'Red Crescent card'—to the most vulnerable refugees in Türkiye.

Every month, each family member received reliable cash payments, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food and medicine. The programme offered additional quarterly top-ups based on family size and provided lifeline support to communities affected by the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye in February 2023.

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

In 2023, after more than three years of operation, the IFRC handed the ESSN over to Ministry of Family and Social Services (MoFSS) of the Republic of Türkiye, alongside the Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay), which will continue to implement the programme, using their expertise and country-wide presence to ensure ESSN benefits communities for years to come.

To mark this pivotal moment, the IFRC hosted an event on 6  December 2023 that was attended by representatives of the EU, the IFRC, the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services and Türk Kızılay. Read the full press release here.

Watch: How a cash card helped refugees in Türkiye


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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.