Today, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis adopted a package of programmes totalling €350 million, the single biggest EU measure in response to the Syrian refugee crisis to date. The programmes will in the coming months help up to 1.5 million Syrian refugees and overstretched host communities in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq through the provision of basic education and child protection, better access to healthcare, improved water and waste-water infrastructure, as well as support to resilience, economic opportunities and social inclusion.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission stated that: "Today's decision is concrete evidence of EU solidarity with Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, those countries hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees who flee violence and persecutions. The war in Syria is the biggest humanitarian crisis we have been facing for decades, we have a duty to provide support to refugees and the communities that are hosting them. The Trust Fund will enable more than 1.5 million Syrians to receive access to education, water, food and health care. In addition, it will help us be ready to ensure that if a ceasefire is in place, we can rapidly deliver on the ground inside Syria. A lasting solution to the refugee crisis will only be achieved through a political process leading to a transition, led by Syrian themselves, to put the country back to stability and peace. The EU will spare no effort to contribute to launch the political process, in parallel to the fight against Daesh and terrorist organisations."
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, commented: "Europe and the countries in Syria's neighbourhood are facing the biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, affecting all of us. Our response must be a joint one if we want to succeed. With fifteen Member States already contributing, the EU Trust Fund embodies this common effort and already bears fruit: within a very short timeframe, we have managed to launch the single biggest aid package ever in response to this crisis. I am convinced that this is the most effective way to address the root causes of the current migration crisis, and to turn despair into hope and future for the refugees.”
The €350 million aid package consists of four different programmes:
€140 million education programme will finance a massive scale-up of support to the Ministries of Education in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to enable them to enrol an additional 172,000 refugee children in school, while also providing for accelerated learning programmes, non-formal and early childhood education and child protection activities. It comprises 3 levels of action: (i) a multi-country programme with UNICEF focusing on Lebanon and Turkey, (ii) several multi-country actions by European NGO groupings focusing on retention support, non-formal and early childhood education, and (iii) additional direct support to the Jordanian Ministry of Education. Together, these actions will target up to 587,000 school-age children and adolescents that are currently out-of-school. As a result the EU Trust Fund financing will close the remaining gap to achieve the long pursued goal of bringing 1 million Syrian refugee children into education this school year.
€130 million resilience & local development programme responds to the urgent need of improving economic opportunities for refugees and vulnerable host communities beyond dependency on humanitarian relief. It will be implemented through a mix of single-country and multi-country activities by European NGOs, EU Member States development agencies, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. The programme will target more than 200 communities and 400,000 people across the region and notably in Turkey, addressing basic financial needs of vulnerable families, engaging unemployed and disillusioned youth through work, skills development and community engagement in preparation of a future return to Syria, while also mitigating tensions between host and refugee communities.
€55 million health programme aims to widen and enhance access of refugees across the region to primary, secondary and tertiary health care, psycho-social support, and protection from sexual and gender-based violence. It will reach and benefit at least 700,000 refugees with a focus on Turkey and Lebanon. In addition, specific healthcare support is foreseen in northern Iraq.
€25 million will be used to set-up a water, sanitation and hygiene programme for Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, where the needs for supporting municipal water and wastewater services are biggest. It is expected to benefit up to 1 million people.
In partnership with the host governments, all these actions will be fully aligned and implemented in accordance with the refugee crisis response plans of the affected countries, in particular the Jordan Response Plan 2016-2018, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, and the national plans in Turkey and Iraq, as part of the regional UN refugee and resilience response framework in this regard.
The Syrian and Iraqi conflicts continue to have an increasingly devastating and lasting impact on Syria, Iraq, across the region, and now also on EU Member States and accession candidates in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans. The needs of the affected populations are of an unprecedented scale. 13.5 million people inside Syria – more than half of the population –, of which 6.5 million people are internally displaced, are in need of urgent assistance, and more than 4.2 million Syrian refugees in overstretched host communities in neighbouring countries need help on a daily basis. The number of conflict-related deaths has surpassed 250,000 individuals and more than one million have been war-wounded. In Iraq, 8.6 million people are in need of assistance, 3.6 million people have been internally displaced in the past two years alone, and more than 200,000 Iraqi refugees need help in Turkey, Jordan, and other host or transit countries.
The EU Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis was launched one year ago to provide a regional response to a regional crisis, thus enabling the EU and its Member States to jointly intervene, flexibly and quickly, in response to shifting needs. The Trust Fund has, within a very short time, reached a total volume of €610 million (€570 million from the EU budget and just over €40 million from 15 Member States), out of which today’s € 350 million and € 40 million adopted at the 1st Board meeting in May are now already mobilised. The remaining funds will be mobilised in early 2016, taking into account as well the possible needs to support the implementation of the agreement reached on 14 November in Vienna by the International Syria Support Group, in which HRVP Mogherini participated.
EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/countries/syria/madad/index_en.htm