EU provides $368 mln boost for refugees in Turkey

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The European Union said on Thursday it was injecting around $368 million (325 million euros) for refugees in Turkey, part of a huge funding plan for the country, which hosts the world’s largest refugee population.

The EU approved a plan in June to provide Turkey with three billion euros from 2021 to 2024 to help it host millions of refugees from Syria.

The 325 million euros will be loaded on to the debit cards of refugees, helping more than 1.5 million to cover their most essential needs, such as food, rent, transport and medicine.

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“This support is a critical lifeline for thousands of families, many of whom have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic,” Janez Lenarcic, EU commissioner for crisis management, told a news conference in Ankara.

“This cash assistance enables them to decide for themselves what they need most urgently, whilst contributing to the Turkish economy.”

A new study carried out by the Turkish Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has revealed that debt levels among refugees in Turkey have more than doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic, with just under half of those surveyed not having acceptable levels of food intake.

The debit card practice, in force since 2016 and aligned with the existing Turkish safety net, currently supports around one-third of the vulnerable refugee population in the country.

Turkey is home to up to five million refugees and migrants, most of them from war-scarred Syria, and remains one of the preferred routes for migrants and refugees to enter Europe.

In 2016, the EU pledged to provide Turkey with up to six billion euros a year after the migrant crisis when more than one million refugees entered Europe.

Turkish officials had repeatedly said the amount was not enough to tackle the number of refugees it hosts.

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