The European Commission launched Thursday its largest ever humanitarian program for education in emergencies to encourage some 230,000 refugee children to attend school in Turkey.
Turkey is currently host to more than three million refugees, almost half of whom are children. Education for school-age children is a key challenge, with 500,000 children enrolled in formal education across the country (in Turkish schools and Temporary Education Centres), while an estimated 370,000 remain out of school.
The €34 million ‘Conditional Cash Transfer for Education’ (CCTE) project will provide bimonthly cash-transfers as of May 2017 to vulnerable refugee families whose children regularly attend school. The project will be implemented in partnership with UNICEF and its partner, the Turkish Red Crescent in support of the Government of Turkey.
“The EU is committed to supporting refugee children in Turkey and beyond. Education in emergency situations is a top EU priority. Our moral duty is to save this generation of refugees children and invest in their future. We have teamed up with experienced humanitarian organizations to make this program a real success,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
The new education project builds upon the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) program, which was launched by the European Commission in September 2016 to provide a debit card to the most vulnerable refugees so they can pay for essential needs like food and shelter.
“Children do not need education even in emergencies, they need education especially in emergencies so they can someday rebuild their lives – and their countries,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Thanks to the EU’s generosity and Turkey’s leadership, UNICEF and our partners are already helping thousands of children to go to school and learn. The CCTE will help us reach 230,000 children – a major step in preventing a lost generation.”
“I am very glad that the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilai) Card is changing the lives of Syrian children who are our guests.” The President of the Turkish Red Crescent, Kerem Kinik, stated. “I thank the European Union and UNICEF for their joint effort for Syrian students in Turkey. In order not to have a lost generation in our region, the whole world should do whatever it can. In this respect, I consider this project as a very important one.”
The contract with UNICEF comes on top of €517 million already contracted for humanitarian aid and increases the total amount contracted for humanitarian and non-humanitarian actions under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey to €1.5 billion. Out of this, €777 million has been disbursed to date.