Social welfare


Country Report: Social welfare Last updated: 11/01/22



The law draws no distinction between temporary protection beneficiaries and applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection in relation to social assistance (see Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions).

Cash assistance programmes implemented mainly by Türk Kızılay through a dedicated bank card (Kızılaykart), have focused mainly, though not exclusively, on temporary protection beneficiaries. These include the following:

  • Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN): The EU-funded ESSN programme was launched on 28 November 2016 by the World Food Programme, Türk Kızılay and the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, under the coordination of AFAD.[1] Families under international or temporary protection and excluded from registered employment are eligible for assistance under ESSN, which extends a monthly allowance of 18 € per family member through the Kızılaykart.[2] Applicants for international protection fall within the scope of this programme.

The ESSN scheme is the single largest humanitarian project in the history of the EU. 1 April 2021 was the one year anniversary of a new partnership to deliver ESSN between the Turkish Government, the Turkish Red Crescent, the International Red Cross, and the EU. 3.4 billion TL were distributed in the first year. The value of the transfer rose from 120 TL to 155 TL and 1.8 million people received cash assistance.[3]

In the context of the ESSN, the Kızılay Food Card developed in cooperation with the World Food Programme offers a smart card technology developed for people in need to meet all their needs at food stores.[4] International protection applicants who hold a YKN go to the Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundations of their satellite city and fill in an application form for a Kızılay Card. If the applicant has a disability, this should be proved by a medical report. Also, people with special needs are prioritised in practice. After 5-9 weeks, applicants can receive their cards ready to use from the contracted bank.

ESSN has been disbursed to 1,798,472 beneficiaries as of January 2021of whom 89. 6% are Syrian. The majority of beneficiaries are located in Gaziantep, followed by Istanbul, Şanlıurfa, Hatay, Adana and Ankara.[5]

  • In-Camp Programme: This programme provides cash assistance to refugees residing in Temporary Accommodation Centres. As of January 2021, 52,348 people had benefited from it.[6]
  • Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE): The EU-funded programme CCTE aims to support refugee families in sending their children to school (see Access to Education) by providing bimonthly payments. The amounts disbursed on a bimonthly basis vary depending on the level of education: for primary school, boys receive 35 TL and girls receive 40 TL, while for high school boys receive 50 TL and girls 60 TL. The CCTE is being disbursed to 534,233 beneficiaries as of January 2021, of whom 85% are Syrian. The majority of beneficiaries are located in Istanbul, Gaziantep, Hatay and Şanlıurfa.[7] CCTE has mainly focused on primary school children..[8]

Although the programme is welcomed, some stakeholders have said that the amount given for the CCTE is symbolic and could be more effective if increased.[9]

  • Accelerated Learning: Around 20,000 Syrian refugee children and young people are enrolled in accelerated learning programmes helping them make up for lost years of schooling, where they also got basic literacy and numeracy classes, and Turkish language courses. Since 2017, the EU has also provided transportation to an average of 6,000 children per month to help them attend their formal and non-formal education activities.[10]

COVID-19 has also affected the access to basic needs to a great extent in 2020. Research in Izmir among Syrian women found severe issues relating to the access to basic food products. The state food allowance was found inadequate by 83.7% of the 300 participants in the study. Although there were different aid programs provided by the State, refugees were either ill-informed about them or simply could not access them due to complex bureaucratic processes. Consequently, 72.7% of the 300 interviewees could not benefit from food aid.[11]



[1] European Commission, ‘1 million refugees in Turkey reached by EU’s Emergency Social Safety Net’, 17 October 2017, available at:

[2]  Türk Kızılay, Kızılay Kart, Cash based assistance programmes, December 2019, 1.

[3] See Turkish Red Crescent, the Emergency Socia Safetyl Net programme, March 2021. Available at:

[4] Türk Kızılay, ‘The Turkish Red Crescent Food Card is Supporting all the Syrians’, 31 December 2015, available at:; Kızılaykart, available in Turkish at:

[5] Türk Kızılay, Syrian Crisis Humanitarian Relief Operation, January 2021, 9.

[6] Ibid.

[7]  Ibid.

[8]  Ibid.

[9]  Information provided by a stakeholder in Gaziantep, February 2020.

[10] ECHO, Turkey Factsheet, 5 March 2020, available at:

[11] Association for Solidarity with Syrian Refugees, COVID 19 Pandemisinde Mülteci Kadınların Temel Haklara Erişimine İlişkin Araştırma Raporu, 2020, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of main changes since the previous report update
  • Introduction to the asylum context in Turkey
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • Temporary Protection Regime
  • Content of Temporary Protection