EU launches substantial aid programme for refugees in Turkey

The programme is part of an assistance package previously promised by the EU which Turkey said is progressing too slowly.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides delivers a speech during a press conference in Brussels, on September 8, 2016.

Updated Sep 9, 2016

The European Union will implement its largest humanitarian aid programme yet, aimed at helping refugee families in Turkey.

The 28-member bloc under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey will be financing the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), with €348 million ($393 million) in aid expected to reach one million refugees in Turkey.

The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides stated that the programme is a "game changer in the delivery of international humanitarian aid."

"Together with the World Food Programme and our Turkish partners we have developed an innovative system that can deliver what people need, where it is needed most, and in the most effective way possible. Through the ESSN, our contribution will be more effectively directed to vulnerable refugees," he added, while taking the opportunity to praise Turkey on its support for refugees.

There are over 3.1 million refugees in Turkey, meaning the country hosts more refugees than any other.

The European Union says nearly 160,000 people, the majority of whom are Syrians, reached Turkey by sea in 2016.

Furthermore, in 2015 over 857,000 people arrived in Greece from Turkey by sea.

Even though most Syrian refugees go through a registration process, the EU said about 90 percent of them remain outside of camps deprived of basic services.

There are currently 26 refugee camps in Turkey hosting more than 250,000 people. The Turkish Government is believed to have spent over €7 billion on the refugees.

However, refugees outside the camps often live in poor conditions with limited resources.

The EU has launched the Facility for Refugees in Turkey in an attempt to support Syrian and other refugees with resources coming from the EU budget and from EU member states providing €3 billion in 2016 and 2017.

According to the EU, more than €169 million has been activated through the Facility for Refugees.

The first €40 million will be allocated to 585,000 Syrian refugees living outside of camps, and 150,000 Syrian refugees living within the camps will be provided with e-cards to purchase food in specific shops.

In late July, another humanitarian aid project totaling €79 million was launched by The European Commission, providing healthcare, informal education as well as assistance in preparing for the upcoming winter.

In the meantime, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be hosting a summit of southern European countries in Athens to address migration, security and economic issues..

TRTWorld and agencies