Ankara, 6 December 2023: As a significant milestone in its commitment to humanitarian aid, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) concluded the implementation of the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) Programme and handed it over to the Ministry of Family and Social Services (MoFSS) of the Republic of Türkiye alongside Türk Kızılay, which will continue to be the implementing partner, with the financial support of the European Union (EU).
To mark this pivotal moment, the IFRC hosted an event on 6 December 2023 that included a photo exhibition at The Ankara Hotel, with the presence of the Head of Unit for Southeast Europe and Eastern Neighbourhood for the EU’s Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) Juha Auvinen and the Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the EU to Türkiye Odoardo Como.
The IFRC was represented by Regional Director for the Europe and Central Asia Office Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services by its Deputy Minister Zafer Tarıkdaroğlu and Türk Kızılay by its Director General for International Affairs and Migration Services Alper Küçük.
“This programme has successfully provided monthly cash assistance to more than 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Türkiye,” said Jessie Thomson, IFRC Türkiye’s Head of Delegation. “Today, we proudly hand over the programme to the capable hands of the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services and Türk Kızılay. We are thrilled to see this vital programme continue in support of the most vulnerable refugees in Türkiye for the years to come.”
“The first step towards the great goals we all aspire to, such as sustainable development and lasting peace, is to empower individuals in need of protection. This is our perspective as Turkish people and the policy we wish to convey to the international community,” said Adil Çalışkan, MoFSS Director General. “With this will, I believe that the ESSN Programme, which we have been implementing since 2016 will continue being one of the best practices of humanitarian assistance in the world following this new milestone.”
Since 2020, the partnership between the IFRC and Türk Kızılay, together with the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services, had been leading on this EU-funded cash programme, which provided cash assistance to more than 1.5 million refugees in Türkiye on monthly basis via the KIZILAYKART debit card, with the specific objective of stabilizing and improving the living standards of the most vulnerable households.
"Türk Kızılay assumes a crucial role as a bridge that connects Türkiye's social assistance network to the extensive international assistance framework," said Alper Küçük, Türk Kızılay’s Director General for International Affairs and Migration Services. “Positioned centrally, the organization actively facilitates the exchange and coordination of resources, information, and expertise between national and international domains. Serving as a vital nexus, it plays a pivotal role in integrating humanitarian efforts across local, regional and global scales, thereby enhancing the overall effectiveness of social assistance initiatives."
Photo: Barkın Seydioğulları/Türk Kızılay
The ESSN Programme in Türkiye, also known as the largest humanitarian cash programme in the history of the EU, was first implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Türk Kızılay in 2016, in partnership with the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Family and Social Services, funded by DG ECHO. This financial support was crucial in increasing the economic resilience of the refugee population while enabling them to meet their most essential needs.
“In 2016, we faced an unprecedented refugee crisis. Through the ESSN, we demonstrated that the EU, Türkiye and international humanitarian organizations could work together to create a unique humanitarian programme, which brought relief to millions of refugees,” explained Juha Auvinen, Head of Unit for Southeast Europe of the EU’s Humanitarian Aid Operations.”
The Ministry of Family and Social Services, as the main applicant with Türk Kızılay as the co-applicant, have taken over the implementation of this programme since August 2023, and will continue serving millions of vulnerable refugees in Türkiye with the financial support of the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) under the ministry’s collective Social Safety Net Programme (SSN).