Today the European Commission is announcing the launch of new projects worth more than €200 million to support up to one million refugees fleeing the war in Syria and their overstretched host communities in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The package of projects was adopted at the fourth board meeting of the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis. The board meeting brought together the European Commission, EU Member States, representatives of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as international financial institutions.
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said: "The EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis allows us to deliver support rapidly and effectively to those in need. In just over one year, the Fund has mobilised more than €730 million from EU Member States, the EU budget and Turkey. The funding focuses on the millions of out-of-camp refugees living in towns and cities in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. We want to bring all refugee children across the region into schools by next year. We will also invest in livelihoods, urgent municipal services and social cohesion for refugees and host communities."
The package is a further step towards fulfilling the EU pledge, made at the conference 'Supporting Syria and the Region' held earlier this year in London, to deliver over €3 billion in 2016 to assist the Syrian people and neighbouring countries affected by the refugee crisis.
Today's package includes:
- €165 million for actions in Turkey which will support education, including school construction and higher education for young Syrians, and extend water and waste-water facilities in southern Turkey. This will be implemented in partnership with UNICEF, UNHCR, the EIB and KfW, working closely with the Turkish authorities.
- €21 million in urgent grant financing for a €140 million programme financed together with EU Member States to rehabilitate the overstretched water networks in northern Jordan, where most of the Syrian refugees reside.
- €15 million to allow UNRWA to provide urgent education services and cash assistance to thousands of Palestinian refugees from Syria who have now fled to Lebanon and Jordan.
Refugees from Syria now constitute the biggest refugee population resulting from a single conflict in a generation. 4.8 million Syrian refugees are living in neighbouring countries and the wider region. Countries bordering Syria are affected the most. Lebanon, which is hosting almost 1.1 million Syrian refugees, and Jordan, which is hosting almost 660,000, have the largest per capita refugee populations in the world. Turkey is currently hosting more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees, the largest number in any one country.
The EU is the leading donor in the international response to the Syrian crisis, with over €6.5 billion from the EU and Member States mobilised collectively in humanitarian, development, economic and stabilisation assistance since 2011. At the international London conference "Supporting Syria and the Region" of 4 February 2016, the EU and Member States pledged an addition €3 billion for 2016 alone. Today's decision is a key step towards fulfilling this pledge. Additional programmes are currently being developed in close coordination with governments in the region to further follow through on the EU pledges.
The EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis adopted its first programmes on 29 May 2015 to provide a regional response to a regional crisis, enabling the EU and its Member States to jointly intervene in response to growing and shifting needs and to contribute to the implementation of the "EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the ISIL/Da'esh threat". It is now one of the main EU instruments to respond to the forced displacement in the region. The Trust Fund merges various EU financial instruments and contributions from Member States and other international donors into one single flexible and quick mechanism. It primarily addresses the longer-term resilience needs of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, as well as the needs of hosting communities. There is flexibility to consider future financing activities inside Syria following a political settlement of the crisis.
So far, more than €730 million has been pledged and contributed to the Fund (€640 million from the EU budget; 21 EU Member States are contributing an additional €69 million). Of this, €660 million has already been allocated to concrete assistance programmes for refugees and host communities in the region. These programmes support basic education and child protection, training and higher education, better access to healthcare, improved water and waste-water infrastructure, as well as support for projects promoting resilience, economic opportunities and social inclusion.
During the board meetings, the Fund welcomed four new Member State donors: Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom. The Fund is also open to international donors. Turkey has provided almost €25 million in co-financing for reoriented funds from the pre-accession financing instrument. The scope of the Fund has been expanded to cover support for internally displaced persons in Iraq who are fleeing from the interlinked Syria/Iraq/Da'esh crisis, and to provide support in the Western Balkans to non-EU countries affected by the refugee crisis.
In partnership with the main host governments, actions financed under the Trust Fund are aligned with the refugee crisis response plans of the affected countries: 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. Actions also support the implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan.
For more information
EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/countries/syria/madad/index_en.htm
EU assistance factsheets:
The Facility for Refugees in Turkey: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/background-information/docs/20160615/factsheet_the_facility_for_refugees_in_turkey_en.pdf