The Turkish government's Pandemic Social Support Program has provided relief for more than 6 million people, Minister of Family and Social Services Derya Yanık said. The program covers everything from cash aid to the distribution of free food across the country, where the ongoing coronavirus pandemic negatively impacted the income of millions.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Turkey has strived to help its citizens maintain their lives under tight restrictions. The pandemic forced the closure of many businesses, with disadvantaged families feeling the impact more. The government had launched multiple programs to sustain financial aid to the needy while providing support to shuttered businesses. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the inclusion of pandemic to “emergencies” in a Social Aid and Solidarity Law that regulates state aid to disadvantaged communities when households with steady incomes suddenly found themselves in need of cash and other basic needs.
Yanık told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday that they raised the budget of Social Aid and Solidarity Foundations, which oversee the ministry’s aid to the needy in 81 provinces, to TL 188 million ($22 million) from TL 135 million and earmarked additional funds amounting to more than TL 1 billion. She noted that the money was spent on aid in different stages and that elderly and disabled citizens were prioritized. These citizens were given TL 1,000 cash aid. In the second stage of the program, households that already had low income prior to the pandemic were paid the same amount and finally, households that had fallen onto hard times due to the pandemic were supplied with cash.
The country last year also launched a fundraising campaign entitled “We are self-sufficient, Turkey” for pandemic support. The donations to the campaign exceeded TL 2 billion.
Yanık said they also gave an additional TL 1,100 to more than 2 million households during the recent 17-day lockdown.
Additionally, the potatoes and onions that farmers were unable to sell during the pandemic were purchased from them by the state and were delivered for free to about 3.5 million families.
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