Türkiye

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15/03/2023 | Article

Türkiye and Syria earthquakes: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies come together in crisis

It was 4:17 AM on February 6, 2023 when two powerful earthquakes wreaked havoc across southeast Türkiye and northern Syria, killing more than 50,000 people and instantly destroying livelihoods. Those fortunate enough to walk out of their buildings woke up to absolute devastation. The only thing more frightening than the sight of collapsed buildings was the deafening silence. While the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Turkish Red Crescent were very quick to respond, it was clear from the immense scale of the disaster that additional support was urgently needed. Thankfully, regional and global support from the IFRC network was swift, with Red Cross and Red Crescent societies from all over the world sending aid within 24 hours. National Societies from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region were some of the first to arrive on the scene. Red Crescent and Red Cross emergency teams from Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE were all dispatched immediately to support search and rescue missions and provide urgent relief. Let’s hear from some of them about how they responded, and hear their perspectives on the crisis: The Iraqi Red Crescent Society was quick to act, with emergency teams and shipments of relief items by air and land. Their President, Dr. Yassin Ahmed Abbas, said: “Two Iraqi airplanes carrying tons of relief items landed in Syria approximately 8 hours after the earthquake. We also dispatched a team of 150 volunteers - supported by ambulances and mobile clinics - to Türkiye to assist with search and rescue and first aid. We’ve managed to provide more than 300 tons of relief supplies so far - to both Syria and Türkiye - and there’s more coming.” At the same time, the Algerian Red Crescent quickly mobilized its resources, deploying an emergency team and sending out two shipments totaling 185 tons of relief items that included food, water, clothes, blankets, mattresses, tents and generators. Nabyl Daas, Emergency Response Team Coordinator for the Algerian Red Crescent, said: “We formed a team of 26 volunteers that included two orthopedic surgeons and a team of Mental Health & Psychosocial Support specialists. We served in 4 different areas in Aleppo, but the conditions were extremely difficult as most buildings were in danger of collapse, which made our work extremely challenging.” It was a similar story for the Kuwait Red Crescent Society volunteer team, who were unaware of the immense challenges ahead. “We felt so many aftershocks during our search and rescue missions, which made our job more difficult than it already was. The most intense aftershock was a 6.4-magnitude, and it caused more deaths and destruction.” said Adnan Haidar, a Kuwait Red Crescent volunteer. “There was nowhere to sleep as everything was destroyed, homes, hotels, everything. People were lining up in fuel stations to get fuel for their cars, which were turned into temporary homes. It was extremely cold, so people used the heaters in their cars for warmth. They would then turn off the cars to sleep because either they were too scared to go back into a building or because their homes were completely destroyed,” Adnan added. As well as sending much-needed support crews, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society signed an international cooperation agreement for 5 million USD to provide urgent aid in affected areas in Syria, which included food, medical supplies, blankets, tents, electrical appliances and prefabricated homes. However, there is a need for more support despite the ongoing efforts, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), which dispatched a team of 14 specialized in Disaster Risk Management, Mental Health & Psychosocial Support, and First Aid. The PRCS assessed the situation in Syria and were able to identify several gaps, including a shortage in particular relief items. Rana Faqih, Disaster Risk Management Coordinator for the Palestine Red Crescent, said: “We were able to assist thousands of people through our different services; however, there is a desperate need for more support.” “There’s plenty of aid coming in, but it’s not enough. There are plenty of food parcels and hot meals, and they’re enough for everyone, but we noticed an insufficiency in other relief items such as baby formula, children’s clothes, hygiene kits and dignity kits. We need to do more.” There is, nevertheless, light at the end of the tunnel, as Abdallah Zgheib - who was part of the Lebanese Red Cross search and rescue team - says: “I cannot describe the feeling we had when we rescued a pregnant woman and her child from under the rubble. I never imagined I would feel so joyous and thankful amid such devastation. Everyone who witnessed this moment erupted in celebration. We celebrated hope.” “The power of humanity is what gave us hope and kept us going, non-stop; it kept us going in sub-freezing temperatures and it kept us full despite barely eating anything for 4 days straight.” One month into this heartbreaking crisis, MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent teams continue to support one another in the face of challenging and evolving circumstances. While much uncertainty remains for those affected by the earthquakes, our volunteers are a constant and will be there for people as long as they’re needed. This crisis has shown, more than ever, that there is strength in numbers. Strength in working together. And strength in our IFRC network.

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03/03/2023 | Press release

Türkiye and Syria one month on: A mental health ticking time bomb

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus, 03 March 2023 – Nearly one month since two devastating earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns of the urgent need of a sustainable short- and long-term response to the health and mental health and psychosocial needs to prevent a “second disaster”. Since day one, the Turkish Red Crescent and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent with the IFRC support, have been meeting the immediate humanitarian needs in the hardest hit areas, including the distribution of food, clean water, hygiene items, winter clothing, blankets and the provision of first aid, health care and sanitation services. But one month into the response, scaling up mental health services is crucial. The demand for mental health and psychosocial support and health care is immense, and in some areas where access is difficult, it can put the most affected at even higher risk of developing medium- and long-term mental health challenges that can hinder recovery and resilience. The earthquakes have rocked survivors to their very core. Entire communities are suffering after losing everything from their loved ones to homes, jobs and many sentimental belongings they own. Moreover, many caregivers and first responders are struggling to cope with what they’ve seen in addition to the exhausting workload and secondary trauma. In Türkiye, Red Crescent teams have set up safe spaces offering mental health and psychosocial support for children to play, supporting over 42,000 people, including first responders and health workers. They also provide psychological first aid and offer referrals to local health facilities. “Responding from the local level, with both mobile and fixed units, is what allows the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC to respond immediately to the physical and mental health needs of those most affected. A localised and early health and mental health response is and will continue to be essential to prevent negative long-term and even permanent effects on people's lives”, said Lauren Clarke, IFRC health coordinator for the humanitarian response in Türkiye. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have supported over 30,000 people with psychological first aid, especially children and continue to provide healthcare and medicines through mobile health units, and physical rehabilitation programs and clinics. The earthquake comes after nearly 12 years of conflict that has already displaced millions and traumatised many communities. “Many of the damages caused by the earthquake are not visible. People have suffered more than a decade of conflict which has already affected their mental health and wellbeing. This earthquake adds another layer to that. We also have seen that psychological wounds won’t always appear right away. That is why we need to provide continuous support, not only right now but for years to come. Hopefully, there will not be another disaster that would complicate the situation even further”, said Gwendolen Eamer, IFRC Health Coordinator in Syria. The IFRC Emergency Appeals for 650 million Swiss francs will support the Turkish Red Crescent and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to continue scaling up their humanitarian response and recovery efforts over the next two years in what is one of the most challenging earthquake responses recently faced by the global Red Cross Red Crescent network. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: [email protected] or +41 79 708 4367 Note to editors In Syria, Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have also distributed more than 1.2 million relief items, such as winter clothes, food, clean water, hygiene articles, and they have provided sanitation services, as these are key to prevent outbreaks such as diarrhea, respiratory and skin infections, COVID-19 and other viral diseases. In parallel, the Palestine Red Crescent in Syria together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent continue to deliver aid, including food distribution, ambulances and medical services, focusing mainly on the Palestinian camps in Aleppo and Latakia. In close coordination with the health authorities, the Turkish Red Crescent is also providing health care through seven mobile clinics in hard-hit rural areas and temporary shelters. Where markets are functioning, they have distributed more than 140,000 cash vouchers, helping to empower survivors by restoring their agency, and giving them the freedom and control to meet their needs in the way they prefer. Turkish Red Crescent volunteers have also distributed over 94 million hot meals.

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16/02/2023 | Press release

Syria and Türkiye: IFRC increases emergency funding ask to CHF 650 million, as humanitarian needs rise

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus (16 February 2023)–As the scale of the earthquake’sdevastation inSyriaandTürkiyebecomes clearer, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is increasing its Emergency Appeals from CHF 200 million to CHF 650 million to respond to rising humanitarian needs in both countries. “The fullimpactof this earthquake is still unfolding. The situation on the ground is rapidly changing, and needs are growing by the minute. For survivors, these are some of the hardest moments of their lives and the road to recoverywill belong. The most urgent needs are shelter, health care and sanitation, food, and water. People are also facing major distress – early access to mental health and psychosocial support is critical,” said IFRC’s Secretary General Jagan Chapagain,who is currently visiting communities in Syria and Türkiye. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Turkish Red Crescent have been working around the clock to support affected communities even though many staff and volunteers have also lost homes and loved ones. Millions of people in Syria and Türkiye are affected, and many are seeking shelter at relatives’ homes, inneighbouringcities or in emergency shelters. Others are sleeping in their cars, in tents or outdoors, exposed to freezing temperatures. Temporary shelters are critical so that evacuated families have a warm place to stay while they figure out next steps. Long-term global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance will be needed in the monthsand yearsof recovery ahead. IFRC’s Emergency Appealssupport impacted people throughthe Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Turkish Red Crescentvia rapid response teams, funding, material assistance and more. Updates to the IFRC’s increased financial asks tell the story of a continually unfolding disaster with compounding needs—from shelter and health to livelihoods and food security. InTürkiye, Turkish Red Crescent has deployed more than 5,000 staff and volunteers in ten affected provinces with stocks of food and basic aid items to support those injured and evacuated. Teams have distributed more than 31 million hot mealstopeople outdoors and at emergency shelters. To meet the increased demand for blood, Turkish Red Crescent has sent its national blood stock to the affected regions and is calling on people across Türkiye to donate blood. InSyria, Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have been responding with 4,000 volunteers and staff inthehardest hit areas – including Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia and Tartous – reaching more than 365,000 people with life-saving support. Medical units have been performing first aid, emergency evacuations and transport to hospitals. Volunteers on the ground have distributed more than 220,000 packages with items such as food, water, basic relief supplies and hygiene kits, and have been helping people connect with loved ones separated by the crisis. Both Red Crescent teams are providing mental health and psychosocial support to those in need to help alleviate distress and refer them to long-term mental health care if necessary. In Palestinian Refugee camps in Syria, Palestine Red Crescent teams are working together with Syrian Arab Red Crescent to provide lifesaving support, including first aid and food distribution. Response teams were focused on Palestinian camps in Aleppo and Latakia, managing ambulances, medical clinics, doctors, and volunteers. The earthquake has prompted a huge wave of solidarity from the IFRC network: dozens of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from aroundthe world have offered technical support. Many of them have already supported the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent with emergency relief items. Almost 60 National Societies have started domestic fundraising campaigns. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: [email protected] +41 79 708 4367 Note to editors: Gaziantep press briefing: IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain, will be holding anin-person press briefing from Gaziantepon Friday, 17 February at 17:30 local time. [email protected] details. A/V materials available to media on theIFRC Newsroom.

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11/02/2023 | Press release

IFRC calls for long term support and solidarity for the people of Türkiye and Syria

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus (11 February 2023) - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on the international community for long-term support and solidarity to the people in Türkiye and Syria hit by two devastating earthquakes on 6 February. “The level of pain and suffering is immense and the need for support is equally enormous. This humanitarian response is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We call on the international community to support the people of Syria and Türkiye not just in the coming days, but also in the months and years needed for recovery”, said Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General. Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent are at the very heart of this response. Both National Societies are rooted in the communities they serve, providing unique access to hardest-hit areas. Often volunteers and staff come from those same communities and may have lost loved ones and homes themselves. They continue to work around the clock to provide life-saving care to survivors. As the life-saving search and rescue window sadly closes, the most urgent needs are shelter, health and mental health care, food, and water. The IFRC continues to scale up international support, bringing in urgently needed relief supplies and resources across borders to support localized efforts. “The aftermath of the earthquake is that of utter devastation. Buildings, schools, homes, and hospitals are destroyed. The most heart-breaking reality is the many thousands still missing and stuck under the rubble. The chances of finding survivors are shrinking. Time is running out fast. Response efforts are extremely challenging. Many roads and other infrastructure have been damaged, limiting access to affected areas. Freezing winter conditions and aftershocks are also hampering those efforts and putting rescuers in considerable danger”, the IFRC Secretary General concluded. The IFRC has scaled up its two International Emergency Appeals to 200 million Swiss francs to support people in Syria (80 million Swiss francs) and Türkiye (120 million Swiss francs). Red Cross Red Crescent Action In Türkiye, the Turkish Red Crescent has deployed more than 4,000 staff and volunteers in affected provinces with stocks of food and basic aid items to support those injured and evacuated. Their teams have distributed 3.5 million hot meals among people outdoors and at emergency shelters and reached 284,000 people with ready-to-eat packages. To meet the increased demand for blood, Turkish Red Crescent has sent its national blood stock to the affected regions and is calling on people across Türkiye to donate blood. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have been responding with 4,000 volunteers and staff in hardest hit areas – including Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia and Tartous –reaching almost 60,000 people with life-saving support. Medical units have been performing first aid, emergency evacuations and transport to hospitals. Volunteers on the ground have distributed more than 42,000 packages of food, water, basic items and hygiene kits to people, and have been providing restoring family links services. Red Crescent National Societies in both Türkiye and Syria are providing mental health and psychosocial support to those in need to alleviate distress and refer them for long-term mental health care if necessary. In the Palestinian Refugee camps in Syria, Palestine Red Crescent teams are working together with Syrian Arab Red Crescent to provide life-saving support, including first aid and food distribution. Their response teams are mainly focused on the Palestinian camps in Aleppo and Latakia, providing ambulances, medical clinics, doctors, and volunteers. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367, [email protected] In Beirut (covering Syria): Mey Elsayegh, +961 3 229 352, [email protected] In Gaziantep:(coveringTürkiye) Corrie Butler, +36 70 430 6506, [email protected] In Ankara: Elif Isik, +90 539 857 51 97, [email protected] In Washington: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected] Photos and video of this response are available to download and use here.

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09/02/2023 | Article

Türkiye and Syria earthquakes: IFRC response to date

Two devastating earthquakes (magnitude of 7.7 and 7.6) struck southeast Türkiye in the early hours of Monday 6 February, followed by several aftershocks, killing thousands of people and injuring many more in the region as well as in bordering Syria. This is the largest earthquake Türkiye and Syria have faced in more than a century. And on 20 February, just two weeks later, another earthquake struck the very same region. Both the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Turkish Red Crescent responded immediately, with thousands of volunteers and staff working around the clock to provide life-saving care. Millions of people are affected and displaced. Many continue to leave the earthquake-impacted areas, seeking shelter with relatives, in neighbouring cities, in emergency shelters and tented camps. Others do not want to leave the only homes and land they know, still sleeping in their cars or in unsafe conditions, exposed to freezing temperatures. The most urgent needs are shelter, health, mental health, sanitation, food, and water. Our emergency appeals The IFRC launched two Emergency Appeals to support the response of our National Societies on the ground, with a combined value of 650 million Swiss francs (CHF). Follow these links to learn more about each appeal and priorities for the response: In Syria:200 million Swiss francs to support the Syrian Arab Red Crescent In Türkiye: 450million Swiss francs to support the Turkish Red Crescent Donations Please use the following links to donate to our response in each country: Donate to Syria response Donate to Türkiye response We are grateful for your valuable support which will enable us to help the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Turkish Red Crescent to deliver lifesaving support. Click here for general information about donating to the IFRC. Media enquiries If you are a journalist and would like more information or to request an interview about this emergency, please [email protected] call+41 79 708 4367. What are our National Societies doing? Both the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent are at the very heart of this earthquake response. InTürkiye, Turkish Red Crescent has deployed more than 5,000 staff and volunteers in ten affected provinces with stocks of food and basic aid items to support those injured and evacuated. Teams have distributed more than 80 million hot mealstopeople outdoors and at emergency shelters. To meet the increased demand for blood, Turkish Red Crescent has sent its national blood stock to the affected regions and is calling on people across Türkiye to donate blood. InSyria, Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have been responding with 4,000 volunteers and staff inthehardest hit areas – including Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia and Tartous. Through their clinics and mobile health units, they have provided healthcare and medicines for over 54,000 people. And they have distributed more than 1.2 million humanitarian relief items,including shelter, blankets, mattresses, winter clothes, hygiene supplies, and food and agriculture supplies. Red Crescent National Societies in both Türkiye and Syria are providing mental health and psychosocial support to those in need to alleviate distress and refer them to long-term mental health care services where necessary. In the Palestinian Refugee camps in Syria, Palestine Red Crescent teams are working together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to provide life-saving support, including first aid and food distribution. The earthquake has prompted a huge wave of solidarity from the IFRC network: dozens of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from aroundthe world have offered technical support. Many of them have already supported the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent with emergency relief items. Almost 60 National Societies have started domestic fundraising campaigns. Follow these Twitter accounts for the latest updates: @IFRC @IFRC_Europe @IFRC_MENA @SYRedCrescent- Syrian Arab Red Crescent @RedCrescent- Turkish Red Crescent @BirgitteEbbesen - IFRC Europe Regional Director, Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen @elsharkawi - IFRC MENA Regional Director, Hossam Elsharkawi Useful links Press release from 3 March: "Türkiye and Syria one month on: A mental health ticking time bomb" Press release from 16 February: "Syria and Türkiye: IFRC increases emergency funding ask to CHF 650 million, as humanitarian needs rise" Press release from 11 February: "IFRC calls for long term support and solidarity for the people of Türkiye and Syria" Our first press release from Monday 6 February with an initial update and announcing our two appeals. Rights-free photos and videos from our response so far which you can download and use. General information about earthquakes and earthquake preparedness.

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08/02/2023 | Emergency

Türkiye: Earthquakes

A devastating 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck southeastTürkiye in the early hours of 6 February, followed by several aftershocks, killing thousands and injuring many more in the region, as well as in bordering Syria. The Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) is distributing tents, blankets, sleeping bags, bed chairs and mattressesto meet the urgent shelter needs of the people whose houses were destroyed. Through this appeal, the IFRC is supporting TRC to meet the immediate and early recovery needs of 300,000 affected people. Support includes shelter, food and water, mental and physical health services, cash assistance and protection for vulnerable groups.

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06/02/2023 | Press release

IFRC launches international Emergency Appeals for CHF 200 million to respond to deadly earthquake in Türkiye and Syria

Geneva/Ankara/Damascus (6 February 2023) -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is launching Emergency Appeals for CHF 200 million to respond to a deadly 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. The Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent have immediately mobilized to support communities affected: needs are growing minute by minute. Rescue teams have been reaching hardest-hit areas where survivors remain trapped under rubble. In Türkiye, teams from the Turkish Red Crescent deployed in ten affected provinces in the south and southeast regions with stocks of food and basic aid items such as tents and blankets to support those injured and evacuated. Their teams are also providing psychological support, distributing hot meals and sending its national stock of blood and plasma to the affected regions. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has been responding on the ground since early morning, supporting search and rescue operations, providing first aid, performing emergency medical evacuations and transporting injured people to the hospitals. A big number of buildings collapsed amidst vulnerable living situations and very harsh weather conditions. “This earthquake caused unfathomable damage. Our worst fear is coming true. In this response, every minute counts,” said Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under Secretary General for National Society Development and Operations Coordination. “The vulnerabilities are coupled on top of harsh winter conditions, making it unbearable for many. The vulnerable living conditions, particularly in Syria, are even further stretched in a decade-long war. People who lost their homes and loved ones need our support. We must join forces and do our best to help.” Increased global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance is essential in the weeks and months of recovery ahead. IFRC will launch two International Appeals, CHF 80 million to support people in Syria with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and CHF 120 million in Türkiye with the Turkish Red Crescent. Updated on Feb. 7: Based on continued monitoring of the situation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has increased the amount of the Emergency Appeal. We are now seeking 200 Million to respond to the deadly earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact: In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41.79.708.4367, [email protected] In Beirut (covering Syria): Mey Elsayegh, +961 3 229 352, [email protected] In Budapest: Corrie Butler, +36 704306506, [email protected] In Ankara: Elif Isik, +90 5398575197, [email protected] Photos of this emergency are available to download and use here.

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04/03/2022 | Basic page

ESSN storytelling project

Through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), we're supporting Syrian refugees living in Türkiye to tell their stories about the realities and issues that matter to them. This page is dedicated to showcasing the stories of Ahmed, Asmaa, Noor, Alaa, Farouk, Abdurrezak, Luai and Malak in their own words.

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18/01/2022 | Press release

#PowerToBe campaign launches to help shift perceptions of refugees

Ankara/Berlin, 18 January 2022 -The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a campaign to tackle negative perceptions of refugees at an increasingly critical time across Europe. The #PowerToBe campaign follows four passionate Syrians living in Turkey – Hiba, a musician, Eslam, an illustrator, Ibrahim, a swimmer and Mohammed, a coffee lover – who are regaining control of their lives through the help of monthly cash assistance funded by the EU, ultimately giving them more power to be themselves. The four protagonists each meet digitally with influential people from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Portugal and Poland who share a common passion for music, art, water sports and coffee. The campaign shows how people from all walks of life can connect with one another at eye-level despite differences in language or backgrounds. In the #PowerToBe campaign, fifteen-year-old drawer Eslam speaks to well-known German illustrator Steffen Kraft, Italian street artist and painter Alice Pasquini and Swedish street artist Johan Karlgren about her passion for illustration. “Drawing a lot helped me to show the world, even if only a little, what happened in Syria,” Eslam said. Ibrahim, who became paralyzed during the conflict in Syria, connects with Polish professional high diver, Kris Kolanus about the freedom and boundlessness they both feel in the ocean. “Even though many things can hinder me, I am trying to do something. For next year, I’m preparing myself to swim the competition across the Bosporus.” Mohammed, a father of two, talks to Turkish coffee bean suppliers Hasibe and Ümit about his passion and memories associated with coffee. “When we came to Turkey to an empty house, we had nothing at all. Some Turkish brothers helped us, gave us some furniture.” They tasted his coffee and told him it was “the best they’ve ever had”. Hiba, who now attends a music school in Istanbul, connected with Portuguese singer-songwriter April Ivy, whom she wrote and sang a song with. “I like to give people hope because whatever struggles we go through, there are actually nice things happening as well,” Hiba says. Turkey is currently home to the world’s largest refugee population with almost four million who are trying to rebuild their lives. About 3.7 million of those are Syrians who fled the conflict that has devastated their country. Funded by the European Union, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is the biggest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and provides monthly cash assistance via debit cards to nearly 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey. The ESSN is implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent and the IFRC in coordination with the Government of Turkey. The cash assistance helps give refugees some relief from an exceptionally challenging year where many are facing deepening debt and poverty due to the secondary impacts of COVID-19. Cash assistance helps give people like Hiba, Eslam, Mohammed and Ibrahim freedom and dignity to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. At the same time, it provides the opportunity to invest back into communities that host them, supporting the local Turkish economy. This year we have seen vulnerable refugee communities slip further into hardships, but we also see their hope and strength. Through this campaign, we wanted to highlight the contributions and resilience they have despite all the challenges. When given the right support, refugees’ potential is endless. Jagan Chapagain IFRC Secretary General Hiba, Eslam, Ibrahim and Mohammed were forced to leave everything behind, but have held on to their dreams and continued to pursue them with passion. The ESSN programme offers a critical lifeline to them and 1.5 million other vulnerable refugees in Turkey, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. We are proud to see the tangible difference it makes by giving them the opportunity to make choices for their lives. Janez Lenarčič EU Commissioner for Crisis Management More information Click here to download more information about the #PowerToBe campaign, including short backgrounds on each of the people receiving ESSN assistance and the influencers taking part. You can also visit the #PowerToBe website and learn more about the ESSN on our website here. To arrange interviews, please contact: In Berlin: Samantha Hendricks (Social Social), +49 1577 495 8901, [email protected] In Turkey: Nisa Çetin (Turkish Red Crescent), +90 554 830 31 14, [email protected] In Turkey: Corrie Butler (IFRC), +90 539 857 51 98, [email protected] In Turkey: Lisa Hastert (ECHO), +90 533 412 56 63. [email protected]

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25/01/2022 | Article

Cash and livelihoods: a winning combination for long-term sustainability and support to refugees

By Deniz Kacmaz, IFRC Turkey, Livelihood Officer Turkey is hosting the largest refugee population in the world. More than 3.7 million Syrians have sought refuge as well as 330,000 under international protection and those seeking asylum, including Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, among others. With the conflict in Syria now entering its twelfth year with few signs of change, means that we are not just looking at a humanitarian emergency anymore, but on long-term resilience. Since the refugee influx began in Turkey, the Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) has been taking a leading role in the response. As of April 2020, Turkish Red Crescent through its KIZILAYKART platform and IFRC run the largest humanitarian cash programme in the world, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), funded by the EU. This programme has helped more than 1.5 million cover some of their most basic needs, covering their groceries, rent and utilities, medicine and their children's school supplies. But humanitarian emergency cash assistance can only go so far. There is also a need to focus on longer-term resilience. This is why we are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. From humanitarian cash to longer-term resilience We are working on both the urgent needs of refugees, while also supporting longer-term livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities. This means being part of the labour market to meet their own needs and rebuild their life without depending on social assistance, including the ESSN. We must focus on long-term solutions where refugees, supported by the ESSN, gain their power to stand on their feet and become self-reliant again. I have been working at IFRC Turkey Delegation for almost two years helping identify gaps and find opportunities to empower people's socio-economic capacities. This approach helps ensure they are resilient in combating challenges in the future, including the devastating socio-economic impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and general obstacles around employment opportunities. We have seen in many contexts when refugees are able to build their resilience and self-sufficiency, they can contribute even more meaningfully to the local economy. When they benefit, we all benefit, including host communities. What are we doing to bring this long-term solution to the lives of refugees? As of April 2021, we have launched referrals that link people receiving cash assistance through ESSN with a plethora of livelihood trainings and opportunities in Turkish Red Crescent community centres. The 19 community centres across Turkey offer support to both refugee and host communities, including work permit support, vocational courses such as sewing; mask producing; various agricultural trainings; and Turkish language courses and skills trainings. These services are critical to breaking barriers in the local markets. The community centres connect skilled individuals to relevant job opportunities by coordinating with public institutions and other livelihood sector representatives. The ESSN cash assistance provides support to refugees in the short term while giving them opportunities to learn new skills, which can lead to income generation in the long term. How do we conduct referrals from the ESSN to livelihoods? There are many sources where families are identified for referrals, some of the most common are: Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) Service Centre 168 Kızılay Call Centre Direct e-mail address to the TRC referral and outreach team Identified potential individuals among ESSN protection cases Field teams including monitoring and evaluation and referral and outreach teams who are regularly engaging with those benefitting from ESSN In the first months of combining cash assistance with longer-term programmes, we have supported more than 1,000 refugees. Some have been referred to employment supports including consultancy for employment and work permit support, while others are attending language courses, vocational trainings, and skills development courses through public institutions, NGOs, UN agencies and TRC’s community centres. Though we have developed a robust livelihood referral system, collectively, we need to make stronger investments in social economic empowerment in the future. While we continue to work on improving our programming and referral mechanisms, as IFRC, we are also reaching out to agencies, civil society, donors, and authorities tolook at how we can: increase investment in socio-economic empowerment in Turkey, mitigate barriers to employment for refugees, and create greater synergies between humanitarian and development interventions. It is this collective effort that will deliver the longer-term gains necessary for both refugee and local communities in Turkey to thrive. -- The ESSN is the largest humanitarian cash assistance program in the world, and it is funded by the European Union. The ESSN has been implemented nationwide in Turkey in coordination and collaboration with the Turkish Red Crescent and International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies (IFRC). We reach more than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey through the ESSN, and we give cash assistance to the most vulnerable populations to make sure they meet their basic needs and live a dignified life. The Turkish Red Crescent with its 19 community centres throughout Turkey supports millions of refugees as well as host communities. The Centres provide several courses, vocational trainings, social cohesion activities, health, psychosocial support, and protection services, among others.

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02/12/2021 | Press release

€325 million boost to EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme, reaching 1.5 million vulnerable refugees in Turkey

Thursday, 2 December: Ankara, Turkey - More than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey will continue receiving critical support thanks to a €325 million boost from the EU’s largest humanitarian cash programme, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the Turkish Red Crescent Society in close coordination with the Government of Turkey. In a press conference today in Ankara, Turkey, Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “Thanks to new EU funds announced today, we will be able to continue the ESSN programme throughout 2022. This support is a critical lifeline for thousands of families, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. This cash assistance enables them to decide for themselves what they need most urgently, whilst contributing to the Turkish economy.” Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world, many of which are Syrians. The ESSN has been providing monthly financial assistance via the “Kizilaykart” debit card since 2016, helping families cover their most essential needs, such as food, rent, transport and medicine. The additional funds from the European Commission will continue until early 2023. Refugee families currently receive 155 Turkish Lira (about €10) monthly per person with additional quarterly top-ups based on family size, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover what they need while contributing to the local Turkish economy. The cash assistance, which is aligned with the existing Turkish safety net, currently supports around one-third of the vulnerable refugee population in the country. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General said: “We are seeing the destructive secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for those most vulnerable, including refugees. We’ve heard from families who are making impossible decisions – between covering their bills, feeding their families, or keeping their children in school. Now more than ever, this cash assistance is critical – it is a lifeline for so many.” New research from Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC has shown that debt levels among refugees in Turkey have more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began with just under half of those surveyed not having an acceptable food consumption, a 20 per cent increase in the last year. The cash assistance from the ESSN is providing an important buffer, with one in two people saying it has helped them manage their debt. Dr. Kerem Kınık, President of Turkish Red Crescent said: “Many vulnerable groups are facing one of their most difficult years, living in hard conditions. Many have come to Turkey for safety. Continued support to the ESSN will ensure families can keep a roof over their children's heads, feed their families and help them get through these difficult times.” AV materials Photos from the visit Additional b-roll on the ESSN programme Background European Union: The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by disasters and crises. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, reaching 150 million people in 192 National Societies, including Turkish Red Crescent, through the work of 13.7 million volunteers. The IFRC acts before, during and after disasters to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. The IFRC has been leading large-scale cash programmes for decades in response to a broad spectrum of disasters around the globe. The Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay) is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey, helping vulnerable people in and out of disasters for years, both in the country and abroad. Since 2012, the TRC has been providing first-line response to the refugee influx, supporting millions of people in camps and urban settings. Through their leading cash team and the “Kizilaykart” debit card, the TRC supports millions of vulnerable refugees and Turkish communities to cover their basic needs. The Turkish Red Crescent, IFRC and EU work in coordination with the Government of Turkey and its Ministry of Family and Social Services. The Government of Turkey is an important partner of the Emergency Social Safety Net programme, which is linked to the existing social system in Turkey. The country hosts the world’s largest number of refugees, and the Turkish Government plays a leading role, with regards to the response to the Syria crisis. For more information or to arrange an interview: European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations: Lisa Hastert, +905334125663, [email protected] IFRC: Corrie Butler, +90 539 8575198, [email protected] Turkish Red Crescent: Nisa Çetin, +90 554 8303114, [email protected]

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06/08/2021 | Press release

IFRC: Delta variant a huge threat in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia

Budapest/Geneva, 6 August 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for more assistance and for vaccinations to be stepped up in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, where rising COVID-19 cases and deaths triggered by the Delta variant are putting health systems under severe strain. Europe now has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the world and has just passed 60 million coronavirus infections. There were sharp increases throughout July – and more than one million cases reported in the last seven days alone[i]. As the majority of Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia is still unvaccinated, medical services in some countries are becoming overwhelmed. Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe, said: “Time is of the essence. With the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping across the region, millions of people in fragile or unstable settings are at heightened risk. “With support from the IFRC, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working tirelessly to help those in need, but additional support is needed to save lives and address long term socio economic and health effects. The new wave of the pandemic is having a knock-on effect and will significantly impact the wellbeing of the most vulnerable.” In Georgia, new infections have skyrocketed by 90 per cent in the last fortnight. Authorities had to expand the capacity of pediatric wards recently, as more children were getting sick, and the number of hotels used as clinics for people with mild symptoms is up. In Russia, daily infections have almost tripled since the beginning of June, with 23,000 on average in the past week. In Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan hospitalisations are on the rise. The situation is also deteriorating in Ukraine, as well as in Turkey, Montenegro and Baltic countries. Younger generations, who often come last in vaccination campaigns, are being increasingly affected by COVID-19 in the region. This is adding pressure on health systems, as many need to be hospitalised, and can negatively impact other people around them too. Ebbesen highlighted that vaccination is the key to curb the spread of COVID-19, together with maintaining crucial preventive measures such as mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces. However, there is a widening gap across Europe: in the richest countries, 60 per cent of people had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of 27 July, as opposed to less than 10 per cent in the lowest income countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia. “Vaccination, not vaccines, saves lives. Donors, governments and civil society, we must all do our part so that vaccines get into the arms of those who need them most. “But this depends largely on the availability of doses and people’s willingness to get immunised. It is essential to collectively step up our assistance so that everyone has access to vaccination and nobody hesitates whether to get a jab or not,” stressed Ebbesen. Worryingly, as holiday travel and easing of lockdowns further the risk of COVID-19 spreading, vital operational funds to support people in need are running out. “We are concerned about not being able to meet the growing needs, particularly as the socio-economic crisis deepens. Not even 60 per cent of IFRC’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal is covered, which limits our capacity to provide basic humanitarian aid,” warned Ebbesen. [i] https://covid19.who.int/table For more information, please contact: In Budapest: -Ainhoa Larrea, +36 705 070 131, [email protected] - Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Geneva: - Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]

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02/08/2021 | Press release

Hundreds of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers responding to wildfires across Europe

Ankara/Budapest/Geneva, 2 August 2021 – Volunteers from Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Turkey are responding to several wildfires raging across Europe. Scorching temperatures, high winds and tinder dry conditions have forced rescues by sea and land, with thousands of people fleeing for their lives with just the clothes on their backs. In southern Turkey eight people have died and scores are injured. Hundreds of animals have been killed and countless homes lost in the worst hit areas of Antalya and Bodrum. More than 2,000 Turkish Red Crescent staff and volunteers are on the ground. Shafiquzzaman Rabbani, Acting Head of Turkey delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “We are very concerned at this week’s weather forecast, with temperatures tipped to reach as high as 40 degrees Celsius in Antalya today. Teams of Turkish Red Crescent volunteers and staff are doing everything they can to assist those affected.” Turkish Red Crescent is providing food through its mobile kitchens, distributing water and hygiene kits, and providing shelter and psychosocial support to firefighters and affected communities. In Greece, Hellenic Red Cross rescuers and lifeguards have been evacuating trapped people by boat from the settlements of Kamares, Longos and Platiri. Earlier in the week they were helping the fire brigade quell a fire in Patras. Extreme temperatures forecast for this week have teams on high alert. Italian Red Cross has been assisting with evacuations in Sardinia and distributing water and food. They have delivered animal feed to farmers as fires continued over the weekend. More than 800 flare-ups were recorded this weekend, mainly in the south, and firefighters continue to flight blazes in Sicily. Spanish Red Cross volunteers have also been busy this weekend assisting at a fire at San Juan reservoir, 70km from Madrid, and 25 Russian Red Cross volunteers are still at the scene of a fire in Karelia, distributing food, water, bedding, hygiene kits and personal protective equipment to people affected. IFRC Europe’s acting head of Disaster, Climate and Crises Antoine Belair said the increasing number of wildfires year on year across the Mediterranean is linked to climate change causing more extreme weather conditions, including lower rainfall and higher temperatures. “Extreme weather conditions exacerbate risks of these events. Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies remain on high alert, providing support to affected populations, in close coordination with national authorities and firefighter teams,” he said. Footnote: Advice on how to prepare for a forest fire can be viewed here. For more information, please contact: In Ankara: Elif Isik, +90 539 857 5197, [email protected] In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]

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18/06/2021 | Press release

Refugees are paying the highest price in the COVID-19 pandemic

Geneva, 18 June 2021 – Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) raises the alarm about the situation of refugees who are facing severe humanitarian hardships, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General, said: “Vulnerable groups, such as refugees, are paying the highest price in the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing alarming trends that show many refugees around the world are unable to pay for food or rent and are struggling to access health care and education. “Refugees have been disproportionately affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and have often been left out of socio-economic support policies. A large number of refugees have lost their sources of income or depleted their savings and are now adopting negative strategies to survive.” In Bangladesh, latest analysis carried out in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society – with support from the IFRC – reveals that communities are struggling to cover their essential needs, particularly due to COVID-19 related movement restrictions, health issues, restricted access to markets, and a recent major fire in the camps. Price hikes in local markets and further displacement caused by camp fires have pushed many families further into food insecurity. During April and May, around 30,000 refugees in the Cox's Bazar camps raised questions and concerns, with 63% seeking services, including urgent food relief and shelter. Just over one third (37%) requested health or medical care. In the past year, reduced presence of humanitarian organizations in the camps due to COVID-19 restrictions also led to an increase in child labour, sexual and gender-based violence and heightened risk of human trafficking. In addition, an increase in child marriage has been observed since the start of the pandemic, often seen as an alternative to education or work. In Colombia, border closures, movement restrictions and loss of livelihoods led to limited access to food and accommodation, with many refugees and migrants – most of whom are from Venezuela - eating only once per day. 18% of those surveyed by the Red Cross Red Crescent Global Migration Lab cited food security and malnutrition as the biggest risks for children during the pandemic. In Turkey, a recent study – conducted by the Turkish Red Crescent and the IFRC – indicates that, among the 4,500 refugee households surveyed[1], debt levels have increased by nearly 50% over the last year. Even more alarming is the fact that many families are unable or can barely afford to pay for what they need most, such as food (72%) and rent (66%). However, cash assistance provided by the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is helping refugees to cover some of these costs. In order to cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, refugees are increasingly relying on survival strategies, such as reducing food consumption, buying cheaper and less nutritious food, buying food on credit and borrowing money from relatives and friends. These strategies have negative consequences on health and well-being and contribute to worrying levels of food insecurity and skyrocketing debts for refugees. “Nobody should be forced to choose between giving their family food or paying their rent; nor face hunger or forced evictions,” said Jagan Chapagain. “Governments should work together with donors, international and multilateral organizations, private sector and civil society to effectively mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable groups, such as refugees and migrants. It's our shared responsibility to ensure that everyone can meet their most essential needs”. -- [1] Households receiving cash assistance from the EU-funded Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) are identified as “eligible” in the Intersectoral Vulnerability Study, while those not receiving support are “ineligible”. In Turkey, refugees are officially recognized as “foreigners who are under international protection or temporary protection”.

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07/06/2021 | Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent warns of the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people in Europe

Budapest/Geneva, 7 June 2021 – The mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will have far-reaching impacts for entire generations, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Several studies by Red Cross and Red Crescent societies across Europe show an alarming pattern, which requires increased efforts to tackle inequity and assist those most in need. Antónia de Barros Mota, head of Mental Health/Psychosocial Support for IFRC Europe, said: “The mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are like invisible scars or hidden wounds. Young people and children are suffering stress, bereavement and loneliness, which can worsen as time passes. Their parents may have lost their jobs. Lockdowns and other restrictions continue to hamper their access to education, training and work.” The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has reached a critical point recently. Four university students took their own lives in a campus in southern France in the last quarter of 2020. French Red Cross set up a 24/7 rapid intervention team[i] to support those at risk. During the first six months they dealt with 11 students including eight who required immediate hospitalisation. “With end of school year exams approaching, staff and volunteers are on high alert,” explained Sara Salinas, coordinator of the French Red Cross emergency service in the county. A Spanish Red Cross study[ii] among families with young children revealed the majority now live in extreme poverty. Nearly 40 per cent are unemployed and three quarters cannot afford expenses such as glasses or hearing aids for their children. Most parents reported feeling worried or stressed, impacting their ability to emotionally support their children. Research by Austrian Red Cross[iii] found sleep and eating disturbances among children had doubled, and that after the second lockdown in 2020, 16 per cent of children interviewed in North Tyrol (Austria) and South Tyrol (Italy) were likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Refugees and migrant children are also significantly affected by the pandemic. A Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC study[iv] found a third were unable to access online school lessons. Another study with German Red Cross in Turkey showed that when forced to stay home children displayed more behavioural problems, and traumatic memories were triggered for some. Europe has had more than 54.6 million COVID-19 cases and 1.1 million deaths to date[v] – a third of infections and fatalities worldwide. Declining trends are promising, but the pandemic’s effects could be long-lasting. “Authorities and civil society organizations must scale up programmes and resources to help vulnerable youth and children – including basic livelihoods assistance and tailored mental health and psychosocial support. It is crucial to promote resilience at the individual level and within society as a whole,” de Barros Mota concluded. Since the beginning of the pandemic, IFRC and Red Cross Red Crescent societies throughout Europe have provided mental health and psychosocial support to 1.8 million people. [i] https://www.croix-rouge.fr/Actualite/Coronavirus-COVID-19/Un-dispositif-de-soutien-inedit-pour-les-etudiants-en-detresse-psychique-2487 [ii] https://www2.cruzroja.es/-/el-96-de-las-familias-con-hijos-de-0-a-6-anos-atendidas-por-cruz-roja-esta-en-riesgo-de-pobreza-y-exclusion-social [iii] Silvia Exenberger; Anna Wenter; Christina Taferner; Nina Haid-Stecher; Maximilian Schickl; Barbara Juen; Kathrin Sevecke; Heidi Siller. "The experience of threat through Covid-19 in children: Gender as moderating factor" has been received by European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The submission id is: ECAP-D-21-00298, May 2021 [iv] https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Impact-of-COVID-19-on-Refugee-Populations-Benefitting-from-ESSN-Programme.pdf [v] https://covid19.who.int/

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26/02/2021 | Article

“I am not one voice. I am the voice of refugees”: Here’s what one inspiring young Syrian wants you to know

Hi, my name is Reyan. I have many plans for my life and my future, for the world. I want to live a life full of happiness. I want to help every child… Reyan Reyan is a painter, writer and poet. Although she uses different mediums, the story in each poem, text and painting talks about one thing: her home country Syria. The 18-year-old young woman has been through a lot; a war, loss of her loved ones, and destitution. The pain, distress and hardship can be easily seen in her drawings and words on a frequent basis. However, her determination, strength and hope are also there. The young and promising artist wants to accomplish a lot in the face of the darkness that fills her art sketchbooks and notebooks. As the Syrian war approaches the 10-year mark, here is a letter in her own words, what she wants you to know: “I am hearing a voice calling me from afar: “Girl, get up, the darkness is getting stronger and fills the country. Get up. Come on, do not give in. The darkness is getting worse. Injustice has begun. The war has eaten us with an unknown mouth. Rise up and raise your voice for the right to peace. Do not be afraid. We are with you. We all want peace; we all want our rights.” I am not one voice; I am all your voices. I am us and you are me. Let us end the darkness and let the light begin again to unleash it. I am a simple girl; I aspire simple things. Despite darkness, injustice, poverty and oppression, despite everything, I just want you to help me reach my voice. I want injustice, bullying, poverty to stop. I want peace for us. I want to defend all our rights to end the black war. An inner voice expresses my story, pain and patience. I could have told you about my story, but my story is a story of a story: homeland.” Like Reyan, many people have had to find refuge from the Syrian war and taken shelter in neighbouring countries. Funded by the EU Humanitarian Aid, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) cash assistance is helping 1.8 million refugees in Turkey to have much-needed stability by covering their most essential needs so that they can fulfil their dreams. 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.

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22/02/2021 | Article

From borrowing money to independence: Refugee family becomes debt-free with cash assistance

Ömer Eddağavi and his family have been living on unstable income since arriving in Turkey six years ago after fleeing conflict in Syria.Relying on seasonal work on farms, forced Eddağavi to borrow money from relatives and friends when there was no job to feed his family.“It is so hard to be dependent on debts when you are responsible for a crowded family. Because you don’t know if you will be able to borrow money next time,” said Eddağavi.However, since the day they started to receive the monthly cash assistance offered by the IFRC and the Turkish Red Crescent, with funding from the European Union, Eddağavi and his family broke the vicious cycle of debt to stay afloat.“Thanks to god, we can live without being in debt and pay our bills,” said Eddağavi.More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)  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 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.

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22/01/2021 | Article

12 months of coronavirus in Europe

… in this together, with Red Cross Red Crescent By Susan Cullinan, IFRC The moment the first coronavirus case was reported in Europe – on 24 January 2020, in Bordeaux, France - no one could have possibly imagined the monumental scale of the year of loss and struggle ahead. Nor could they have foreseen how Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies stepped up their activities across Europe and Central Asia, enabling them to be at the heart of the response. Staff and volunteers from the movement have been running first aid tents, delivering critical supplies to the elderly, caring for the sick and dying, at the end of the phone for people unable to leave home. They’ve provided food, shelter, a kind word and a friendly face, supported those who fall through the cracks – the migrants, people on the move, people who are homeless. They’ve provided trusted information. The numbers are staggering. More than 12.5 million people across the region have received food and other material aid from Red Cross Red Crescent[1]. More than 2.8 million people have received direct cash or voucher assistance and 1.3 million more received psychosocial support to help them through the tough times. Red Cross Red Crescent ambulances carried more than 325,000 COVID-19 patients to hospitals. Accurate information was shared to help inform people about the virus and how to stay safe, and an estimated 60 million people in the region have been reached with this messaging. The breathtaking spread of the virus With Italy the centre of the first wave, and the first country to go into lockdown, it remained the hardest hit country in Europe for months. Italian Red Cross was the first National Society in Europe to deliver food and medicine to people in quarantine, and ramped up their ambulance service to cope with the escalating number of people infected. By March Europe was the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, so much so that on 18 March more than 250 million people were in lockdown in Europe. And now, nearly 12 months after the first case, sadly by 19 January 2021, 30.8 million cases were confirmed and 674,00 people in the region had died. [2] The Red Cross Red Crescent response needed to be swift. On 30 January the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern and the following day the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) allocated funds for a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) and a preliminary Emergency Appeal. With its long experience in health emergencies it anticipated COVID-19 could develop into a pandemic with a devastating humanitarian impact and sadly it has shaped up to be one of the world’s most challenging crises, affecting every corner of the region with everyone vulnerable to contracting this virus. In line with Red Cross Red Crescent’s unique role as auxiliary to government, and as a community-based and widely-trusted organization, in Europe region the Red Cross movement came up with innovative responses. The Austrian Red Cross developed a contact tracing app. British Red Cross surveyed people on their loneliness and pivoted to provide extra support for those newly alone. The Czech Red Cross trained volunteers to work in hospitals that had become overwhelmed. The Turkish Red Crescent researched people’s knowledge and attitudes towards the virus and pivoted to fill the gaps they discovered. Swedish volunteers helped children with their homework. The Red Crosses of the countries of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia worked together to get supplies across their borders to people in an isolated part of Croatia. Extra support was given to people with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia whose treatment was disrupted by the pandemic. With the rapid surge in prevention activity, while case numbers grew at an alarming rate, by the end of Spring the situation had improved somewhat. By summer as numbers plateaued government restrictions relaxed. The movement urged people to stay the course and maintain prevention measures in the face of pandemic fatigue and a sense the worst was behind us. Second wave Sadly conditions deteriorated, leading to a second wave. From late July case and death numbers steadily worsened again. By October, the Europe region accounted for the greatest proportion of reported new cases globally, with over 1.3 million new cases in the last week of October, a 33% leap in cases in a week. The national societies doubled down. Many had by now switched to remote and on-line support, however 23 National Societies continued to deliver COVID-safe clinical and paramedical services, including those in Germany, Italy, Israel, Spain and the UK. As well they ran quarantine and testing stations, triage facilities and outpatient fever clinics to support the public emergency medical service, and provided mobile care services. Some National Societies also supported experimental treatments by collecting plasma from patients who recovered from COVID-19 and had antibodies, and in turn provided this plasma to hospitals to treat very sick patients. Countless training and guidance sessions for staff and volunteers on COVID-19 were helped across the region, on the proper use of personal protective equipment and ambulances cleaning and disinfection. Vaccines – a potential game changer By the start of December, the future started to look brighter. Countries started to plan for the possible arrival of vaccines, but this was taking place against a background of a relentless resurgence in the number of people infected with COVID-19. In the WHO Europe region, there had been more than 4 million new cases in November alone, with the region accounting for 40 % of new global cases and 50% of new global deaths. [3] The vaccine results have come to be seen a large part of the solutions to containing the virus, but it has brought with it the challenge of countering misinformation and building trust in vaccines, as well as managing expectations that they will bring about a quick end to the pandemic. IFRC has supported local efforts to educate communities about their safety and efficacy. Those hardest hit In January more evidence came to light of the disproportionate impact the coronavirus was having on older people when the IFRC’s Europe office published the results of a survey[4] which found older people had become sicker, poorer and more alone as a result of the pandemic. It added to a growing body of evidence that coronavirus had harmed the poor and most vulnerable the most, pushing millions more into poverty. [5] Sadly, migrants were also identified in new IFRC research as those least protected and most affected by the pandemic. [6] And now, as we enter the start of the second year of the pandemic under ongoing harsh lockdowns, many countries are starting to see cases stabilise and even reduce. This emergency has had significant challenges, including global flows of misinformation and disinformation, response fatigue and system-wide impacts of multiple waves of cases. The Red Cross Red Crescent movement is well-placed to do its part in the regional response given its extensive history with disease outbreak. And planners in the movement acknowledge that vaccines will not be the silver bullet to end this pandemic alone. Red Cross will continue to work with communities to ensure they are informed about the virus, how it spreads and what to do to keep safe. It’s continuing to advocate for tracing and isolation of people who are ill as a central part of the response. To keep in the fight against COVID-19, the entire population must stick to the preventative measures which have been proven to help stop the spread of the virus – even as a vaccine becomes more widely available. [1] https://go.ifrc.org/emergencies/3972#actions [2] https://covid19.who.int/ [3] https://www.euro.who.int/en/about-us/regional-director/news/news/2020/12/whoeuropes-year-in-review-2020 [4] https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/new-study-finds-coronavirus-has-left-older-people-poorer-sicker-and-more-alone [5] https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/2020-year-review-impact-covid-19-12-charts [6] https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/migrants-and-refugees-least-protected-most-affected-covid-crisis-warns-ifrc-president

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20/01/2021 | Article

Syrian refugee gets through challenges with power of writing

Said loves reading and transforming his personal struggles into stories and poems. Each tells a different story close to his heart about love, loss and the everyday challenges of those forced to flee conflict, like himself. “How can I be indifferent to the suffering of those people injured by bombardments,” he says. “I write about humanity and homelessness. About the ones who were displaced just like us. I feel them and I feel their suffering. These are the people of my country – they are my family.” Said is a 66-year-old Syrian refugee living in Turkey; he and his family were forced to flee their hometown in Syria’s southwestern area of East Ghouta in 2018. Said remembers a beautiful life before the war, full of nature and books. Working as a farmer since he was 12, he was growing vegetables and raising livestock. Inside his house, he had a large library, filled with precious manuscripts and books from well-known philosophers. When a rocket landed on their home in Eastern Ghouta, the whole library was engulfed in flames. “The fire devoured everything, blew up everything. With all the past, with all the books it had, with all the documents there. It was my legacy and the legacy of my ancestors. And all were gone,” remembers Said. When the rocket attack tore through his home, he remained under the rubbles with his three-months-old grandchild Jana and shrapnel from the rocket severely injured him and paralyzed almost one side of his body. With barely any time to recover, they were forced out of their village and crossed into Turkey. Said’s wounds are still fresh. However, writing, reading and time with his little grandchildren help him hold on to hopes of a new life. “I sit with my grandchildren, they are always with me. We play games together and I tell them stories. I think I am child-like to them,” Said says with a smile. Starting over in a foreign country with a physical disability was not easy. Now, Said receives small cash assistance each month from the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC, with funding from the European Union. Due to many health problems he and his family have, they use most of the cash assistance to buy medicine. Funded by the European Union and its Member States under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) provides monthly cash assistance via debit cards to nearly 1.8 million of the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey. The cash assistance enables them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. 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.

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08/12/2020 | 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

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30/11/2020 | Article

COVID-19: an opportunity to challenge our traditional way of working with communities

By Sevde Nur Söylemez COVID-19 has challenged our approach as humanitarians – how can we still support the most vulnerable while still keeping people safe from this pandemic? For Turkey, we’ve learned to challenge our traditional way of supporting communities and have adapted – even reinvented some of the ways we do things. I have worked for the Turkish Red Crescent for more than 2 years now, supporting the world’s largest humanitarian cash programme, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) with the IFRC and funding from the European Union. This programme supports 1.8 million refugees living in Turkey with monthly cash assistance to help them buy the things they need most. One of the most critical parts of our job is engaging with the communities we help, to hear people’s perceptions, so we can respond better to their needs. One of the best ways to do this is through focus group discussions - a crucial research tool that provides richer experiences and ideas from people who are generally coming from similar backgrounds. No matter the condition, never stop the communication Without the same opportunity to have these face-to-face interactions, we came up with a different innovative approach - remote focus group discussions, which had never been done in the programme before. Its key findings are fundamental to better understand the current struggles and situations refugees are facing during the pandemic all while keeping them safe from the spread of COVID-19. Findings: The devastating impacts of COVID-19 I heard many heart-breaking stories of refugees, trying to make ends meet. In most households, the sole breadwinner lost their jobs due to the pandemic. COVID-19’s effect has also had severe mental health impacts – families are more isolated as visits between neighbours, friends and relatives are limited. In addition, the children have some challenges in accessing the online curriculum. Among the things people shared, these quotes stuck out for me: “I used to have a grocery store, but I had to close it.” “It affected us and our jobs. I couldn’t work for three months” “I don’t have neighbours but I have many relatives here. My daughter was in the hospital for 12 days. No one could come because they were afraid.” Nevertheless, when they talk about the situation, we could see the hope and expectation of a better future. Many told us how the ESSN cash assistance has been a lifeline and that it would have been even harder without it. How did we conduct the remote focus group discussions? The Turkish Red Crescent has a call centre, an important source of information for people we help. We utilized this to call families to confirm their participation in the discussion. We go to the household and meet the participant, ensure written consent and hand them a mobile phone that they use to connect online to a digital focus group discussion, hosted by the Turkish Red Crescent. Field staff were on standby to help if any problem occurs with the connection or device while they were in the session. During the discussion, if there are any issues we identify it and take or refer the case immediately to our other relevant teams. (Photo: Turkish Red Crescent) Less participants, more expression Across Turkey, we conducted 26 focus group discussions, between four to six participants attending each. Groups were also broken down between men and women. We found we could reach and include the elderly and people with disabilities without inconvenience. This gave us a greater opportunity to hear and understand their opinions and made the bond between us even stronger. Whenever we arrive in communities, we are welcomed. Although we have physical distance between us – at least 1,5 meters – our faces hidden behind masks, we can still feel the warm smiles. The pandemic may have changed the way we approach our work, but the connection between us and participants has never stopped, there is always a way. 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.

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31/10/2020 | Press release

Red Crescent and Red Cross provide urgent assistance following powerful earthquake in Turkey and Greece

Izmir/Ankara/Budapest/Geneva, 31 October 2020 – Turkish Red Crescent Society (Türk Kizilay) is continuing to provide life-saving assistance to people affected by the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck yesterday off Turkey's Aegean coast, north of the Greek island of Samos. According to initial reports by Turkish authorities, at least 25 people have lost their lives, more than 800 have been injured, and several buildings have collapsed or sustained damage following the tremors. “Right now, we have a critical life-saving window – our teams are focused on ensuring people get the urgent support they need in the hours and days after this earthquake, including hot meals, hygiene items and psychosocial support,” said Ibrahim Ozer, Turkish Red Crescent Deputy Director General for Disaster Management from Izmir, the most affected area in Turkey. “Many are also unable to return home due to the aftershocks and we’re focused on ensuring some of their most basic needs are met – such as food, emergency housing and other essential items.” More than 140 Turkish Red Crescent volunteers and personnel were immediately sent to the affected area. Volunteers have been supporting authorities in search and rescue efforts, providing psychosocial support as well as deploying their mobile kitchens with the capacity to serve 56,300 people with hot food. In Greece, which was also hit by the earthquake, a Hellenic Red Cross rescue team has arrived on the island of Samos and is working with authorities to determine the most pressing needs. The teams are trained in first aid, rescue and water provision among other emergency skills. Two teenagers died on Samos after a wall collapsed on them while they were walking home from school. IFRC regional director for Europe Birgitte Ebbesen said the quick response by Turkish Red Crescent and Hellenic Red Cross rescue teams was to be commended and showed the importance of local preparedness and action. “Turkish Red Crescent and Hellenic Red Cross volunteers are in every town and city across their countries. They are part of the communities they serve - they know the people and their needs. We thank them for their selfless and life-saving work and stand ready to support in any way we can.” AV content from Turkey: Photos Video AV content from Greece: Photos

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30/09/2020 | Article

Cash assistance in Turkey helps refugee families invest in language skills for a chance at a better life

Before the everlasting war in Syria, Sabit El Hacco used to grow wheat on his own farm. However, when he fled conflict in 2016 and arrived in Turkey, the conditions drastically changed for him and his family. El Hacco continued to work as a farmer but this time seasonally on other family’s lands, oftentimes struggling to make ends meet. “We used to cultivate our own fields back at home, growing wheat. Here, when there is an opportunity, we continue to work as farmers. However, there are no jobs in winter,” said El Hacco. Living with his family of 12 in a shanty house located in Ankara’s Beypazarı district, famous for its agriculture, El Hacco tries to do what he knows best to be able to provide for his 10 children. However, without speaking the local language, securing a stable income stands as a challenge. “Without speaking the language, the job opportunities are very limited. For this reason, I applied to the district governorship’s Turkish language course,” said El Hacco. El Hacco began receiving monthly cash assistance from Turkish Red Crescent through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme in coordination with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) and funded by the EU. It allowed Sabit to focus on learning the local language and re-establishing his life in Turkey without worrying about his family’s day-to-day needs. “We wouldn’t be able to afford shelter to be under or even take care of our children without Kızılaykart,” said El Hacco. “ESSN means being free of debts, having a shelter, having a life to us,” he adds. 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 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.

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16/09/2020 | Article

Giving back after receiving help through difficult times: Syrian refugee offers helping hand to vulnerable people

"Yardim seven ol" means "be someone who loves helping" in Turkish. This is a mantra that Kevser, a Syrian refugee in Turkey, lives by. While trying to rebuild her own life after fleeing conflict in Syria, she works as a volunteer at the Turkish Red Crescent to help vulnerable people in the community. Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 has had a severe impact on Kevser and her family, as well as many other refugees who are particularly vulnerable. Spending three months in lockdown, her husband was not able to work and their debts ballooned. They were able to help pay their debts through cash assistance from the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), which provides monthly cash assistance to more than 1.7 million refugees in Turkey, funded by the European Union and implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent and IFRC. Additional cash assistance over the last two months was provided to families, like Kevser’s to help ease the socio-economic burden brought on by COVID-19. However, this hasn’t stopped her from helping refugees like her and other people in need in the community – it has only helped fuel her. Kevser has been a volunteer at the Turkish Red Crescent’s Community Center, funded by the EU, in Ankara’s Altındağ district for two years, visiting vulnerable households, informing people in need about available resources and referring them to related services when necessary. “We are giving a range of seminars, such as understanding the law in Turkey, their rights, how to go to a hospital, family and children’s health, and the available in-kind assistance for those in need,” Kevser said. Kevser’s volunteerism started back in Syria when she saw the unfolding violence around her in Damascus. She received first aid training and worked in hospitals while training others to become first responders. “I wanted to do something for people, for whomever got wounded,” said Kevser. Kevser and her family decided to leave Syria in 2015 when a bomb landed on their home. “We had a beautiful life in Syria. I had my own business in Damascus. My kids were going to school, my husband was working. We lost everything during the war. We came to Turkey and started from zero,” Kevser said, adding: “It was a hard decision that we made for our children.” Starting a life from scratch, finding a job while still learning the language in a foreign country was tough for her family. The support from the Turkish Red Crescent – both through the ESSN cash assistance and language training in the community centres, became a lifeline. “The assistance has been crucial for us to pay the rent and bills, as my husband is not able to find jobs all the time,” she said. “Without assistance, our life would be very difficult. Turkish Red Crescent changed our life. Iattended courses, became more active, I feel powerful,” Kevser added. Learning the local language changed everything in her life, Kevser says. Her relationship with her neighbours improved, she attended vocational courses, she was able to go to the hospital on her own. It also gave her a chance to give back to the Turkish community as a volunteer. "God willing, I will work, everything will be better," she said. ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, more than 1.7 million refugees receive 120 Turkish Lira (13.5 euros) via prepaid debit cards, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine. Turkish Red Crescent’s Community Centres support Syrian refugees and host communities to increase livelihoods, resilience and self-reliance, provide community-based health and first aid and give psychosocial support. Centres are funded by European Union Regional Trust Fund (EUTF) in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the MADAD Fund. 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.

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