The ongoing partnerships between Turkey and the EU have shed light on the success of their joint investments to mitigate the challenges faced by the refugees and bolster their resilience, aspects that remain a pivotal component of the EU’s humanitarian and migration policies. However, the EU still recognizes the need for further investments to enhance Syrian refugees' living conditions.
Turkey continues to make very significant efforts to host and address the needs of more than 3.6 million refugees, the highest number in the world.
Total EU assistance allocated to refugees in Turkey since 2011 amounts to close to €10 billion. This includes €345 million in refugee assistance mobilized between 2011 and 2016, €6 billion under the Facility between 2016 and 2019, €535 million in humanitarian bridge funding in 2020, and €3 billion in additional funding in 2021–2023.
By 31 December 2020, the Commission had contracted for the full operational envelope of the Facility, which was established in 2016. By the end of 2022, €5 billion had been disbursed out of a total of €6 billion.
From the additional €3 billion from the EU budget, €2.2 billion have been committed to date in the areas of basic needs and socio-economic support, education, border management, as well as protection. The remaining €630 million is being programmed in 2023.
In 2022, the European Union, through the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, continued to support refugees and host communities in Türkiye. As the Seventh Annual Report of the Facility recently published concludes, important progress has been made in key areas such as basic needs, education, health, socio-economic support, municipal infrastructure, and strengthening border management in close cooperation with the Turkish authorities.
Since 2011, the EU has directed close to €10 billion to assist refugees and host communities in Turkey. It has disbursed over €5 billion since 2016 under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, while €2.2 billion of the additional €3 billion allocated until 2023 has already been committed. The remaining will be programmed in 2023 and will also address the consequences of the devastating earthquakes of February 2023.
The report showcases significant achievements since the establishment of the Facility in the following priority areas:
- Basic needs: more than 2.6 million refugees have received direct support through a program delivering monthly cash assistance via a debit card system. The Ministry of Family and Social Services also provides monthly financial support to the most vulnerable refugees under a program similar to the Turkish social security system.
- Education: over 747,000 Syrian children were enrolled in formal education by March 2022, and 811,181 children have benefited from an EU program that supports school enrolment and the attendance of refugee children. To date, over 12,000 educational facilities have been upgraded and a total of 117 schools have been constructed.
- Health: two hospitals and 187 Migrant Health Centers are operational and around 4,000 healthcare personnel are working in EU-supported facilities;
- Municipal infrastructure: The Facility is financing 36 water, wastewater and solid waste facilities and 26 facilities for youth and sports. The construction of a mechanical biological waste treatment facility in Gaziantep was completed in October 2021.
- Vocational Training: Grants to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship training are provided to both Syrian refugee and host community start-ups and existing entrepreneurs. More than 26,000 women have successfully completed short-term vocational skill training, while around 40,000 women have benefitted from employment counselling services. Around 25,000 adult refugee women have completed Turkish language courses successfully;
- Border management: The Facility has funded two projects for a total of €80 million to strengthen search and rescue capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard and the management of returns from the EU. Both projects have been completed.
The Facility has allocated more than €2.83 billion to basic needs and socioeconomic support, with the goal of strengthening refugee resilience and self-reliance and allowing for a gradual transition from dependency on social assistance to enhanced self-reliance and livelihood opportunities. In this context, more than 2.6 million refugees have received direct support, mostly through the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), a humanitarian social assistance programme delivering monthly cash assistance via a debit card.
Overall, the Facility has allocated more than €1.5 billion to the priority area of education, including €545 million for educational infrastructure and more than €181 million in humanitarian assistance, whilst €800 million were allocated to health, notably through the SIHHAT project, which supports the Turkish Ministry of Health in its efforts to provide free and equitable access to health care to refugees.
In the area of municipal infrastructure, €380 million were allocated under the Facility. A variety of municipalities have been supported with the provision of essential municipal services, including water supply and sanitation and solid waste management, as well as youth and sports facilities.
In the area of border management, under the additional €3 billion for 2021-23, the EU has allocated €30 million to enhance migration management and border control and €220 million have been committed in 2022 to help Türkiye address the increased migratory pressure in its eastern borders, through the provision of equipment, technical assistance and training.