Turkey: EU extends humanitarian support for refugees

A Syrian refugee hugs her daughter moments after reaching the shores of Lesvos island in an inflatable boat earlier this year.  © UNHCR/A.Zavallis

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

The European Commission has extended two humanitarian flagship programmes in Turkey until early 2022. These programmes help over 1.8 million refugees meet their basic needs and will help over 700,000 children to continue their education.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “The humanitarian needs of refugees in Turkey persist and are even further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The EU is fully committed to support those in need, as we have done for the past years. I am glad that our flagship programmes help thousands of refugee families have some normality in their daily lives. This is a true demonstration of European solidarity.”

The programmes that were extended until early 2022 are:

  • The Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is providing over 1.8 million refugees with monthly cash assistance to meet their basic needs. This is a largest EU funded humanitarian programme ever. It is implemented by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent.
  • Conditional Cash Transfers for Education (CCTE), the largest EU-funded humanitarian education programme, providing support to families whose children attend school regularly. It helps over 620,000 refugee children continue their education and will support 700,000 in 2021. The programme is implemented by UNICEF in partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent.


Turkey hosts close to 4 million refugees, with 70% of them children and women. More than 98% of refugees in Turkey live outside camps. Some 3.6 million are Syrians who fled the ongoing war.

The ESSN and CCTE programmes were set up under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The extension of the programmes announced today are no longer funded under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, but from the budget of the European Union.  The programmes will continue supporting the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey. Both programmes are implemented in partnership with the Government of Turkey.

The ESSN provides the most vulnerable registered refugees with monthly cash transfers onto an electronic debit card to help pay for what they need most, such as food, shelter, health and transport. The CCTE programme funds bi-monthly cash-transfers, via the same debit card, to vulnerable refugee families whose children attend classes regularly.

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