Turkey: Extension of EU humanitarian programmes supporting 1.7 million refugees receives green light

covid19 2020

© UNICEF Refugees and migrants gather at the Pazarkule border crossing near Edirne, Turkey, hoping to travel into Greece.

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

Following the Commission`s proposal on 3 June, the European Parliament has approved today a top-up of EUR 485 million to support refugees in Turkey. The funding now cleared by both the Council and the European Parliament will allow the European Union to extend two flagship humanitarian programmes in Turkey until the end of 2021. These programmes enable over 1.7 million refugees to meet their basic needs and more than 600,000 children to go to school.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “The EU will support refugees in Turkey as long as the humanitarian needs persist. This new funding shows our deep concern for the most vulnerable, especially now that the coronavirus has further exacerbated their already dire situation. Thanks to the partnership between humanitarian organisations, the Turkish authorities and the EU, our humanitarian programmes help refugees to meet their basic needs and preserve their dignity.”

One of the programmes – the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) – is providing over 1.7 million refugees with monthly cash assistance. This is the largest EU-funded humanitarian programme ever. The largest EU-funded humanitarian education programme – Conditional Cash Transfers for Education (CCTE) – provides support to families whose children attend school regularly. It now enables over 600,000 refugee children to go to school. All programmes receiving EU humanitarian support are implemented by UN agencies, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and NGOs.


Turkey hosts more than 4 million refugees, with 70% of them children and women. The majority of refugees in Turkey live outside camps. Some 3.6 million of the refugee population are Syrians who fled the ongoing conflict.

The funding announced today is additional to the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey, which provided €2.4 billion for the humanitarian response in 2016-2019 out of a total of €6 billion. The ESSN and CCTE programmes were set up under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

The ESSN provides the most vulnerable registered refugees with monthly cash transfers onto an electronic debit card to help them cover their basic needs such as food, shelter and transport. The CCTE programme funds bi-monthly cash-transfers, via the same debit card, to vulnerable refugee families whose children attend school regularly.

The humanitarian leg of the Facility has been fully contracted, meaning that additional funds are needed to continue the humanitarian programmes in Turkey. The EU’s humanitarian operational budget in 2020 in Turkey now amounts to €531.7 million, in addition to ongoing projects funded via the Facility.

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