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A lifeline for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Turkey

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Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world – close to 4 million. The cost of living and lack of access to a regular income make it difficult for many to pay for the things they need most urgently. Particularly vulnerable groups like survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) receive specialised support thanks to EU humanitarian aid.

Story by Beatrix Senoner and Can Eminoğlu, UNHCR Turkey

*“In the beginning, I struggled to provide for my children. Thanks to the cash assistance, we live in better and safer conditions now. I can pay our rent and some of the utility bills,” *says Razia*, a refugee from Afghanistan. After experiencing violence, she sought help and started receiving protection support and monthly cash assistance, which helped her get back on her feet.

With EU humanitarian funding, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) provides SGBV survivors like Razia with a small monthly amount to help them through the recovery. This cash assistance ensures the dignity and safety of those who have nowhere else to turn by easing their financial burden.

In times of the coronavirus pandemic, this assistance has become even more important. In many parts of the world, domestic violence is reported to have increased. UNHCR’s cash assistance can provide survivors of violence with a vital lifeline, helping them cover some of their expenses, such as medical fees, housing and utility bills, food and other immediate needs.

Building a new future

Razia also attends psychosocial support sessions offered by one of UNHCR’s partners.* “I am now able to fully focus on my recovery, as I do not have to think about how to support my family financially,” she explains. “Now, I feel better, and I am also more confident and hopeful for my children’s future.”*

When Farah* escaped violence and abuse, cash support helped her start a new life. *“I don’t feel stressed about the rent and the main expenses anymore. This makes me more independent and allows me to stand on my own feet,” *she says.

Her children’s education is Farah’s number one priority. She wants them to fulfil their dreams when they grow up and become self-reliant. “I was concerned about how to provide education for my children, due to our financial difficulties. The assistance helps my children stay in school. I can now cover their education expenses.”

For Razia and Farah, UNHCR’s support came at the right moment, providing them with a pillar of strength that helped them and their children through a difficult time. Thanks to EU support, around 350 SGBV survivors benefit from this cash assistance each month, helping them gain back a sense of security, normality, and hope for their future.

*All names changed for protection reasons.

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