Today the European Commission announced the first projects under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, pledging €55 million to address the immediate needs of Syrian school-children in Turkey for access to formal education, and €40 million in humanitarian aid through the World Food Programme (WFP) working in close cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations announced the funding while visiting refugee camps in south-east Turkey in the provinces of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaraş, where he also met with political representatives and visited an EU-funded school in Kahramanmaraş. The Commissioner said:
''Children of Syrian refugees in Turkey need access to formal education so that they can hope to build a normal life in the future. Education is an absolute priority and a human obligation for us all. The new funding of €55 million announced today will help bridge existing gaps and put 110.000 Syrian kids into schools, on top of the 200.000 schoolchildren the EU already supports. This will complement the commendable efforts of the Turkish authorities to provide education to refugees''.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is one of the major partners in the European Commission's delivery of a humanitarian response both inside Syria and in the neighbouring countries. It will benefit from additional humanitarian funding through the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said today: "We have been providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Turkey since the beginning of the crisis and the new Refugee Facility allows us to deliver more and better aid. The new €40 million in humanitarian aid we are providing to the World Food Programme will help to reach 735 000 Syrian refugees with food aid".
The EU has consistently supported Turkey since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in facing up to the pressure it is under due to the high number of refugees present in the country. The recently established €3 billion Facility for Refugees in Turkey will significantly scale-up the EU's assistance to those in need and their host communities.
The Facility for Refugees in Turkey is the answer to the European Council's call for significant additional funding to support refugees in Turkey. The Facility provides a joint coordination mechanism for actions financed by the EU budget and national contributions made by the Member States, designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.The resources of the Facility will come from the EU budget and from EU Member States over 2016 and 2017, reaching a total of up to €3 billion over two years.
To address the most immediate needs of the Syrian refugees and their host communities, €55 million in assistance from the Facility for Refugees in Turkey will allow an additional 110.000 Syrian children in Turkey to attend school already during the current academic year, on top of the 200.000 schoolchildren the EU already supports.. The assistance will be disbursed on the ground through the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, and will allow for the immediate signature of a new contract of €37 million with the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to add to the €12.5 million which has already been contracted.
The European Commission's €40 million contract with the World Food Programme (WFP), working in close cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent, is the first humanitarian aid contract to be announced under the Refugee Facility for Turkey. It is one of the largest ever contracts between the WFP and the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department for a single country. Through this contract, refugees will receive e-cards which can be exchanged for food at designated shops. The European Commission is working closely with the Turkish authorities, UN agencies and other humanitarian actors to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable refugees.
Turkey's geographical position makes it a major first reception and transit country for refugees and migrants. The country is hosting more than 3.1 million registered refugees.. Turkey is making commendable efforts to provide massive humanitarian aid and support to an unprecedented and continuously increasing influx of people seeking refuge and has already spent more than €7 billion of its own resources on addressing this crisis.
Since its establishment in December 2014, most non-humanitarian aid for Syria’s neighbouring countries is channelled through the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis. The Trust fund aims to bring a more coherent and integrated EU response to the crisis by merging various EU financial instruments and contributions from Member States into one flexible and rapidly-deployed mechanism. The Trust Fund primarily addresses longer term resilience needs of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, as well as the hosting communities and their administrations. Its mandate has just been extended to allow it to also operate in the Western Balkans when it can be of use in facing the Syrian migrant flow.
The Temporary Education Centre (TEC) in Kahramanmaraş is a 12-classroom school funded by "EU Children of Peace" project window managed by the Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). The TEC opened in February 2015 and offers primary education and lower secondary education. Currently the TEC has 522 students, with 15 Syrian voluntary teachers and 3 Turkish teachers educating the children. The construction of 22 additional TECs is planned for 2016, potentially with funding stemming from the EU Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis.
The Kahramanmaraş refugee camp was established on 1 September 2012, and has a total population of 17.590 people living in 3684 tents. There are 6.720 school age children in the camp, with 5.086 of them enrolled in school.