For most of his life, Hüseyin Yusuf worked as a barber at his family’s shop in the Syrian city of  Aleppo. 

“Our economic situation was good in Aleppo,” Hüseyin says, until the day the war came to their community. 

“When the war started, we all thought that it would end soon; but when the conflict reached our neighborhood in Aleppo, we had to leave everything behind.”

(Photos: Turkish Red Crescent)

The rising conflict in the city forced Hüseyin and his family to leave Syria and move to Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep as refugees. The move to Turkey was a difficult one: the family had no home, very few belongings, and they were staying in a foreign country. Due to the language barrier, Hüseyin couldn’t work as a barber and held temporary jobs, which prevented him and his family from having a stable income.

But their lives have now changed for the better. Through an EU-funded programme providing support to 1.7 million refugees in Turkey, Hüseyin and his family have been able to get reliable cash each month to cover critical needs like rent, utilities, and food. It has also helped ensure his children stay in school. 

“Life started to look brighter when we started receiving the cash assistance nine months ago,”  Hüseyin said. “We are full of gratitude.” 

Though they are beginning to build their lives in Turkey, their draw for home still runs deep. “Our kids are very young and they are not aware of everything,” said Hüseyin. 

“We miss our country very much. We will return to Syria when the war ends.”

More about the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme  

Funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), IFRC and Turkish Red Crescent are providing monthly cash assistance via debit cards to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey under the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme. This is the largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and the largest programme ever implemented by the IFRC.

ESSN is providing cash to the most vulnerable refugee families living in Turkey. Every month, they receive 120 Turkish Lira (18 euros), enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transport, bills, food, and medicine.

*This story was originally published on Turkish Red Crescent’s kizilaykart.org website and adapted by the IFRC.

This article covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.