Kilis Camp, SOUTHERN TURKEY -- Seven months ago, Abu Naif, like thousands of other Syrians, chose to leave his country to save his family. The 41-year-old and his pregnant wife Amira, 35, fled with their eight children from Tal Rifaat in rural Aleppo, only 20 km away from the Turkish border.
“Back in Syria, the shelling was coming closer and closer to our village. So I took the kids and brought them to Turkey,” he says. “There was nowhere else to go. Turkey is the closest refuge to us. We ended up here.”
Amira gave birth to their new son Ahmed here in Kilis camp in southern Turkey. With a big family to feed, Abu Naif and Amira need all the assistance they can get to help them go through these hard times.
The family of 11 is now receiving WFP food voucher assistance, an e-card they can use to buy fresh foods from the camp’s supermarkets. WFP launched this week the Food E-card intervention in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC). In five camps, one in Kilis and four in Hatay, initially for 25,000 Syrians, and will then be expanded to include a higher number of families, as cooking facilities and access to shops become available in other camps.
“I talked to Syrian Refugees buying food from the camp’s supermarket. They all seemed happy,” says WFP Regional Director Daly Belgasmi. “The supermarket is like any other in the world. It provides good quality food, fresh vegetables, fruits and a variety of other commodities.”
Each family member receives 80 Turkish Liras (US$ 45) each month loaded into the electronic card. The amount is enough is to provide a basic diet of at least 2,100 kilocalories for every person each day. This system also boosts the local economy.
"We used to close our supermarket at seven in the evening but now we are open until midnight,” says Abdi Polat, the owner of the supermarket inside Kilis camp. Abdi has even recruited Syrian employees to help him run his business. “The e-cards are mutually beneficial. We are happy and the Syrians are happy too.”
The Turkish Government said the number of Syrians registered in Turkey has exceeded 100,000; the highest in the region so far.
“This is unprecedented,” says the Governor of Kilis Suleyman Tapsiz. “But in our customs, we do not close our eyes to the suffering of our brothers, so we opened our doors to them.”