Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)
We are providing cash assistance to more than 1.5 million refugees living in Türkiye 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 (EU).
| Press release
Campaign showcases how cash assistance helps refugees in Turkey regain control of their lives
Ankara/Berlin/Geneva, 8 December 2020 – A digital campaign that connects inspiring and talented refugees in Turkey with influencers across Europe has been launched today by the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The campaign highlights the passions and dreams of four young refugees – a singer, a cook, a footballer and a parkour runner – who regain control of their lives through the largest humanitarian programme of the European Union (EU). Turkey is currently home to almost four million displaced people - the largest refugee population in the world. About 3.6 million of them are Syrians who fled the war that has devastated their country. The four refugees participating in the campaign are supported by the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), which is funded by the EU and implemented by the IFRC and the Turkish Red Crescent, in partnership with the Government of Turkey. It provides financial support to vulnerable refugees in Turkey who are struggling to make ends meet. Through the ESSN, around 1.8 million vulnerable refugees – mostly from Syria - receive small monthly payments via a debit card. The regular cash assistance allows them to pay for what they need most, such as food, rent, transport, and medicines. An additional quarterly allowance is provided, depending on family size, with special payments to those who require further care. This financial support gives families the dignity of choice and prevents them from adopting negative coping mechanisms, such as pulling children out of school to bring money in for the family or falling deeper into debt. Thanks to the ESSN, families regain control of their lives and ultimately the power to be themselves. The digital campaign, #powertobe, launched in five countries – Austria, France, Romania, Spain, and Turkey –aims to raise awareness about the challenges faced by people fleeing conflict, by portraying them as individuals with passions and talents. In the campaign, Davud, Amal, Bilal and Hamad talk about their passions, dreams and challenges as they rebuild a new normalcy in Turkey. "I didn't bring anything with me from Syria. We only came with our souls. Cooking helps me forget the outside world. The money which I get from the card helps me, so that nothing is missing for my children", says Amal. The campaign sees the four young refugees meet with the influencers digitally and discuss their common passions in video messages, online calls and eye-level cell phone clips. The campaign will run from 8 December 2020 to 4 January 2021.For more informationFor more information about the ESSN digital campaign, visit powertobe.ifrc.orgShare the campaign on social media using the hashtag: #powertobe
| Press release
Migrants and refugees “least protected, most affected” in COVID crisis, warns IFRC President
Geneva, 10 September 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disaster for people from all walks of life, but an absolute “catastrophe” for the world’s vulnerable migrants, people seeking asylum and refugees. Already weak social safety nets are eroding, migrants are being stuck, stranded without access to support, in some cases unable to move or return, as well as exposed to increasing risks of unwarranted deportation and detention, and heightening stigma and discrimination.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, Francesco Rocca, the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:
“COVID-19 has been cruel for all of us. It has been catastrophic for migrants. They face even more restrictions in terms of accessing basic services in ways that contribute nothing to public health. They are disproportionately impacted by border closures. They face heightened risk of detention and deportation. They are increasingly scapegoated for the pandemic.”
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have seen a sharp increase in the vulnerability of migrants around the world. For example, in Central America, the closing of borders and the hardening of policies have seen thousands of migrants trapped at points along the isthmus, including in Darien Province in Panama, and on the Costa Rica side of the Nicaragua border.
In Europe, thousands of migrants remain stranded in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in large part due to COVID-19 restrictions. In Greece, appeals to move vulnerable migrants from inadequate facilities on islands to the mainland have also stalled, in part because of the pandemic.
IFRC President Rocca said:
“Border closures and lack of political will have trapped tens thousands of migrants in Europe, North Africa and the Americas in an intolerable limbo, often without access to critical support to meet their most basic needs and stay safe.”
In terms of economic impact, President Rocca warned that COVID-19 has caused “threadbare social safety nets for migrants and refugees to snap.” In Turkey for example, recent IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent polling has found that nearly seven out of 10 refugee families surveyed have lost employment while a staggering four out of five families have seen their household debts balloon to near intolerable levels.
Mr Rocca was speaking at the launch of a new IFRC policy report that looks specifically at the impact of COVID-19 on migrants and refugees. The report – Least protected, most affected: migrants and refugees facing extraordinary risks during the COVID-19 pandemic – documents the rising vulnerabilities of these groups over the past six months, while noting that the existing challenges faced by migrants have been exacerbated and risks to health and safety increased as a result of the pandemic.
The report contains a number of recommendations for governments on how COVID-19 responses can best keep everyone safe, including by ensuring the policies introduced to control the pandemic are not used to justify inhumane treatment of migrants and refugees.
President Rocca said:
“(These measures) must not impact the ability of people to seek asylum or force people to return to situations of danger and harm. In some countries, we have seen the principle of non-refoulement being discounted.
Stopping the virus is in everyone's interest: how each country treats and supports the most vulnerable will affect how the virus spreads and how well the country recovers from the pandemic.”
Download the report:
Least protected, most affected: migrants and refugees facing extraordinary risks during the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF, 5.7 MB)
Cash assistance offers lifeline to a refugee family in Turkey
For most of his life, Hüseyin Yusuf worked as a barber at his family’s shop in the Syrian city of Aleppo. “Our economic situation was good in Aleppo,” Hüseyin says, until the day the war came to their community. “When the war started, we all thought that it would end soon; but when the conflict reached our neighborhood in Aleppo, we had to leave everything behind.”(Photos: Turkish Red Crescent)The rising conflict in the city forced Hüseyin and his family to leave Syria and move to Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep as refugees. The move to Turkey was a difficult one: the family had no home, very few belongings, and they were staying in a foreign country. Due to the language barrier, Hüseyin couldn’t work as a barber and held temporary jobs, which prevented him and his family from having a stable income.But their lives have now changed for the better. Through an EU-funded programme providing support to 1.7 million refugees in Turkey, Hüseyin and his family have been able to get reliable cash each month to cover critical needs like rent, utilities, and food. It has also helped ensure his children stay in school. “Life started to look brighter when we started receiving the cash assistance nine months ago,” Hüseyin said. “We are full of gratitude.” Though they are beginning to build their lives in Turkey, their draw for home still runs deep. “Our kids are very young and they are not aware of everything,” said Hüseyin. “We miss our country very much. We will return to Syria when the war ends.”More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme Funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent are providing monthly cash assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey under the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme. This is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and the largest programme ever implemented by the IFRC.ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, they receive 120 Turkish Lira (18 euros), enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine.*This story was originally published on Turkish Red Crescent’s kizilaykart.org 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.
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 kizilaykart.org 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.