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European Commission - Fact Sheet

Questions and answers: Support for refugees in Turkey through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)

Brussels, 8 September 2016

Questions and answers: Support for refugees in Turkey through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN)

On 8 September 2016, the European Union announced a ground-breaking humanitarian programme in Turkey. Up to one million of the most vulnerable refugees will be able to meet their basic needs by receiving monthly cash-transfers via an electronic card.

This Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is financed with €348 million by the European Union and its Member States under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. It is the largest ever single humanitarian aid project financed by the EU. This funding comes on top of EUR 164 million the EU has already made available for humanitarian aid projects in Turkey since the beginning of the year.

How does ESSN it work in practice?

The most vulnerable among the three million refugees in Turkey will receive an electronic card. Monthly cash-transfers to this card will ensure that they can meet their basic needs by purchasing what they need most. This will provide them with the dignity of choice. This support will enable vulnerable refugees to feed and house their families and to send their children to school rather than to work. In addition, the money will be spent in local markets, respecting the local communities and boosting local businesses.

The ESSN will provide direct financial assistance to about one million vulnerable refugees.

Who can apply for ESSN support?

EU humanitarian aid is intended for the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis, whether they are Syrian or non-Syrian, registered as refugees or not. Whilst the monthly cash-transfer under the ESSN will reach the most vulnerable families among registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, a referral system will be put in place as part of the ESSN to address the needs of other persons of concern too. 

Many refugees in Turkey live under precarious circumstances. When will the aid reach them?

The first monthly payments under the ESSN will be made in October this year. By the first quarter of 2017, the much needed humanitarian aid will reach one million refugees countrywide.

How will you ensure that the EU funding is well spent?

The EU funded aid scheme will be carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), a long standing EU humanitarian partner with a track record of successfully implementing large-scale relief projects. WFP will work hand in hand with the Turkish Red Crescent.

The European Commission will work in close partnership with the implementing organisations and rigorously monitor the EU-funded projects to ensure efficiency and maximum humanitarian impact.

How will the EU ensure that the ESSN funding is well spent and cost-efficient?

The ESSN is very cost-effective. It introduces one single card that can be used to cover the basic needs of the refugees, from food to housing. The ESSN will be implemented by one single partner organisation, the World Food Programme in close cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent. It will build on their experience in Turkey and globally. Because it will be implemented through a single card, the ESSN will also simplify and unify the delivery of assistance. The implementation of the ESSN will be monitored closely.

Is the European Commission transferring humanitarian aid funds directly to the Turkish government?

The support under the Facility for refugees in Turkey seeks to improve conditions for refugees and host communities as part of the EU's comprehensive approach to addressing the refugee crisis inside and outside the European Union.

EU funded humanitarian projects are carried out by humanitarian organisations, not by the governments.

All EU-funded relief aid projects in Turkey are therefore carried out by humanitarian organisations: UN agencies, international organisations and non-governmental organisations - that have concluded a framework partnership agreement (FPA) or a Framework Administrative and Financial Agreement (FAFA) with the European Commission. This also applies for ESSN.

Close cooperation with the Turkish authorities is of course part of the humanitarian response to ensure the effectiveness of the actions. The programme has been developed and will be implemented in close partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent. It will build upon the existing architecture and expertise of the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Policy (MoFSP) under the coordination of the Turkish National Disaster Management Authority (AFAD).

How much money is available for relief aid under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey?

The Facility for Refugees in Turkey provides a coordination mechanism for actions financed by the EU budget and national contributions made by the Member States to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.

The Facility has an overall budget of €3 billion for 2016-2017. This is made up of €1 billion from the EU budget, and €2 billion from the EU Member States. Of this available funding, €652 million have to date been contracted for humanitarian and non-humanitarian actions under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.

For More Information

Press release: EU announces more projects under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €348 million in humanitarian aid to refugees in Turkey

Factsheet: The Facility for Refugees in Turkey

Websites:Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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