The Straits Times
Published on Dec 07, 2012

Debit cards come to the aid of Syrian refugees in Turkey


ONCUPINAR, Turkey (AFP) - Syrian refugees wait in line for food at a Turkish refugee camp – not crowding around an aid truck but queuing at an ordinary supermarket to pay for goods using electronic debit cards.

Under the experimental project launched by the UN World Food Programme and theTurkish Red Crescent, thousands of refugees who have fled the conflict raging in their homeland now receive cards charged with aid credits rather than boxes of basic supplies.

“We started to use this smart card system because it respects human dignity and offers Syrian people aid, in a less blatant way,” said Ahmet Lutfi Akar, head of the Turkish Red Crescent.

“It is much better than delivering aid to people in boxes when they have no chance to choose. In stores they can buy whatever they want based on their taste and preferences,” he told AFP.