Pre-paid debit cards for refugees in Turkey

Euronews television channel, which broadcasts in 13 languages, has made a short documantary about the pre-paid debit card that aims to meet the basic needs of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Four hundred and six-five thousand Syrians are reported to have been killed or missing in Syria’s six-year civil war. Nearly one-quarter of these are presumed to be civilians. There are 5.5 million Syrian refugees in the world. 3.1 million are registered in Turkey, which is the first refugee-host country in the world.

Sanliurfa is a city of two million people in the South East of Turkey. This historical and tourist town is also one of the main arrival hubs in the region for Syrian refugees. It is situated about 50 kilometres from the border.

Over one-quarter of its population, 550,000 people, are registered as Syrian refugees. Nowadays some of these Syrian refugees are using a kind of debit card that is called "Kızılay Kart" which is issued as a part of the Emergency Social Safety Net programme. This is an EU cash-based programme which is now supporting nearly one million of the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey . Launched a year ago, it is the biggest humanitarian aid project the EU has ever funded.

Compared with other forms of aid, this card gives refugees the freedom to spend the money as they choose.

Syrian nationals in Turkey are not officially recognised as refugees. They are given temporary protection status with limited rights, including regulated access to the labour market. Contrary to belief, most of them don’t get benefits, only the most vulnerable are helped.

The UN’s World Food Programme and its partners support about 120,000 people in the province of Sanliurfa. Systematic monitoring is crucial to determine if families are still eligible for the card and how they are spending the money.

The Emergency Social Safety Net programme aims at reaching 1.3 million refugees by the end of the year. Financed by the EU Humanitarian Aid Office, it is implemented by the World Food Programme, hand in hand with the Turkish Red Crescent and the Government of Turkey. Thanks to the Emergency Social Safety Net programme, over 30% of the Syrian refugee population now receiving regular social assistance in Turkey.