Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world with more than 4 million people. Some 3.7 million of them are Syrians who fled the ongoing conflict that has been ravaging their country for over 11 years.
Most refugees in Turkey live outside camps, with growing but still limited access to basic services.
The EU, in close cooperation with the Turkish authorities, has been assisting the most vulnerable people based on their humanitarian needs. Since 2015, the EU has supported 95 humanitarian projects contracted with 23 partner organisations.
What are the needs?
According to the UN Refugee Agency, over 98% of refugees in Turkey live outside camps under challenging and often precarious circumstances.
Turkey is making commendable efforts to provide registered refugees with access to basic rights and services, including education and healthcare. However, after years of displacement, many refugee families have depleted their resources.
The cost of living and lack of access to a regular income make it difficult for vulnerable families to meet their basic needs. Some feel they have no choice but to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as child labour, street begging, or early marriage.
Many families reduce their food consumption or live in substandard housing.
How are we helping?
The EU funds humanitarian projects in Turkey to help vulnerable refugees and their host communities receive the support they need, in close coordination with the Turkish authorities.
Furthermore, the EU created the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey in 2016 to assist Turkey in its efforts to support refugees. Under the Facility, the EU has invested €2.4 billion in humanitarian assistance in Turkey between 2016-2019.
In addition to projects funded via the Facility, the EU allocated €32.5 million in humanitarian funding between 2012 and 2014 as well as €531.7 million in 2020. The EU allocated €425 million in 2021 and 2022, which includes the latest €50 million in humanitarian funding announced in June 2022.
The EU's humanitarian flagship programme in Turkey is the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN). The ESSN is a social assistance scheme that helps the refugee population meet their daily needs through cash assistance.
Since 2016, humanitarian organisations -- in collaboration with the Turkish Red Crescent and Turkish government institutions -- have been helping refugee families to buy what they need most, via EU-funded debit cards.
The ESSN is the single largest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU and currently assists nearly 1.5 million people. Over 370,000 particularly vulnerable refugees receive cash assistance from the development part of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey.
In addition, EU-funded partner organisations have distributed over 700,000 e-vouchers, food parcels or kits with other urgently needed items.
To help vulnerable refugees during COVID-19, the EU has further adapted its humanitarian response to meet newly emerging needs. For example, the EU provided an additional one-off cash payment to help refugees with the devastating economic impacts of coronavirus.
Since 2017, the EU has also been supporting vulnerable refugee families whose children attend school regularly through bi-monthly cash transfers under the Conditional Cash Transfers for Education (CCTE).
The CCTE is the EU's largest-ever humanitarian programme for education in emergencies. It currently assists around 795,000 children.
The EU is also committed to providing access to education for refugee children. Thanks to EU humanitarian funding, more than 62,000 refugee children have been referred to education programmes.
Through the implementation of the Support for School Enrolment (SSE) programme, over 37,000 refugee children were enrolled in formal and non-formal education opportunities. Where necessary, children and families were provided also with transportation, translation, and further support to ensure children's enrolment in educational opportunities.
These programmes are complemented by other humanitarian aid projects addressing protection issues, including legal counselling, psychosocial support, access to civil documentation, and specialised healthcare services.
For example, EU funding has enabled partner organisations to provide over 1 million primary healthcare consultations to refugees in Turkey. Only in 2021, EU-funded humanitarian projects reached more than 2.7 million people.
Turkey has also been a participating state to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism since 2005. Established in 2001, the Mechanism aims to strengthen the cooperation between the EU Member States and 6 participating states on civil protection to improve prevention, preparedness, and response to disasters.
Turkey last activated the Mechanism in August 2021, when unprecedented forest fires ravaged the country.
Facts & figures
More than 4 million refugees in Turkey (Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Interior)
EU humanitarian funding through the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey:
€2.4 billion between 2016-2019
Total aid under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey:
€6 billion from 2016 to 2019
Additional humanitarian funding outside of the Facility:
€125 million in 2022
€300 million in 2021
€531.7 million in 2020
€32.5 million for 2012-2014