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Helping refugees in Turkey regain control of their lives


“I didn’t bring anything with me from Syria. We only came with our souls. Cooking helps me forget the outside world. The money that I get from the card helps me so that nothing is missing for my children,” says Amal, a Syrian refugee now living in Istanbul. 

Turkey is currently home to the largest refugee population in the world: almost four million. About 3.6 million of them are Syrians who fled the war that has devastated their country.

Amal is receiving financial support from the largest humanitarian programme of the European Union (EU): the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN). This is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey. Implemented by the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Turkish Red Crescent, in partnership with the Government of Turkey, the ESSN provides regular cash assistance to refugees who struggle to make ends meet.

Around 1.8 million vulnerable refugees – mostly from Syria – receive small monthly payments through the programme via a debit card, which allows them to pay for what they need most: from food to 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.

Today, the IFRC has launched a digital campaign that connects four inspiring and talented refugees in Turkey with influencers across Europe. The initiative highlights the passions and dreams of a a cook, a singer, a footballer and a parkour runner who are regaining control of their lives through the ESSN: Amal, Hamad, Bilal and Davud. 

The ESSN digital campaign, #powertobe, has been launched in four EU countries – Austria, France, Romania and Spain – and Turkey, aiming to raise awareness about the challenges faced by people fleeing conflict. The four refugees talk about their passions, dreams and challenges as they rebuild a new normalcy in Turkey, virtually meeting with influencers based across Europe to discuss their common passions in video messages, online calls and eye-level cell phone clips. The initiative will run until 4 January 2021. For more information, visit

For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyón on: or +32 2 235 09 22

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