EU minister welcomes EU funds for refugees, criticizes modality

EU minister welcomes EU funds for refugees, criticizes modality

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
EU minister welcomes EU funds for refugees, criticizes modality

AA photo

Turkish European Union Minister Ömer Çelik has welcomed the EU’s aid program of 3 billion euros for refugees in Turkey but expressed criticism over the mechanism of delivering those finds through international organizations.
“Because delivering the aid through non-governmental organizations delays the process,” Çelik said, while speaking at a joint press conference with Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides 

The European Union will deliver its largest ever humanitarian aid program for refugees in Turkey, Stylianides told Hürriyet Daily News, adding however they could only provide humanitarian assistance through international humanitarian organizations. 

“This is a principle in [the] humanitarian field. This is our obligation. It happens in this way in Africa and in Asia, now even in Greece, which is a member state of [the] European Union,” he said. 

Of the total 3 billion euros in EU funds, 1 billion was earmarked for humanitarian assistance through humanitarian organizations, while the remaining 2 billion euros will be delivered through state channels and pipelines, he said.

International agencies, U.N. agencies and NGOs were contracted for these funds and the vast majority of the total goes through the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF and the UNCHR, Stylianides stated.

They cannot directly flow the money to Turkish government institutions because of specific requirements, the commissioner said.

“We have discussed with the minister [Çelik] that this project is real evidence that we utilize Turkish organizations. Without the contribution of Kızılay [the Turkish Red Crescent], definitely we’ll not be in this very productive moment in order to launch this largest ever humanitarian project founded by the EU. I explained [this to] him and I think he was satisfied,” Stylianides said.

Stylianides also expressed his optimism to overcome political hurdles in the migrant deal between Turkey and the EU. 

“Our implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement is quite important for both sides. We know very well that we have to deal with this very unprecedented crisis together. We need this collective action. We need Turkey and they need us. Our partnership is strengthening in order to cope with this unprecedented crisis. I am optimistic that together with Turkey we can deliver this very difficult job…. The Emergency Social Safety Net [ESSN] is real evidence [of] what we can do together,” he said.

Stylianides was in Ankara to launch the EU’s flagship humanitarian aid program, which is set to provide a monthly electronic cash grant to benefit 1 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. The ESSN aid project has an initial budget of 348 million euros and will be implemented by the WFP and the Turkish Red Crescent, in close collaboration with Turkey’s Family and Social Policy Ministry and Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

As of October, monthly cash transfers to electronic cards will be given to refugees in need across Turkey. Every family will hold one card which will provide a transfer of 100 Turkish Liras per person, per month. Refugees will be able to spend the money on their basic needs, such as food, shelter and transport, without any restrictions. It’s planned to have a conditional cash transfer for education.

“This amount comes with specific research with the Social Affairs Ministry and with our partner on the ground, the WFP, and others. At the same time we have a lot of projects for education and other activities which are more or less definitely in process. This project can further be utilized,” the commissioner stated.

“Turkish authorities and our partners, they believe that this is more or less something which can cover the basic needs of each refugee family. We are ready to evaluate the whole project after the first nine months in order to see if we can make some improvements,” he added.