EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis
"Europe and the countries in Syria's neighbourhood are facing the biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, affecting all of us. Our response must be a joint one if we want to succeed. The EU Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis is one of Europe's key instruments for delivering on our €3 billion pledge at the London conference on supporting Syria and the region. With more than €730 million committed to the Trust Fund, including from now 21 EU Member States, it has launched projects for more than €427 million within the first year of operations, focusing on two key priorities agreed in London: to bring all children into school and to invest in livelihoods and social cohesion for both refugees and host communities so as to provide urgently needed perspectives, stabilisation and economic opportunities for the region."
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and
Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn
and Q&A for Fund partners.
The EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis provides for a more coherent, faster and integrated EU response to the crisis by merging various EU financial instruments and contributions from Member States into one single flexible and quick mechanism with a target volume of €1 billion. The Trust Fund primarily addresses longer-term resilience needs of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, as well as supporting host communities and their administrations. The Trust Fund focuses on non-humanitarian priority needs and may also be adapted to finance transition and reconstruction needs in a post-conflict Syria.
Within this context, the Trust Fund in particular supports priority areas under the Resilience Pillar of the UN-led Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan ("3RP") in response to the Syria Crisis, which, for 2016, appeals for almost USD 2.5 billion in resilience support, an increase of 25% compared to 2015, as well as the priorities agreed on 4 February 2016 at the London conference on "Supporting Syria & the Region", and relevant areas of the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan, where the Trust Fund is also one of the delivery instruments for the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.
With recent pledges and contributions from 21 EU Member States (amounting to over €69 million), Turkey (€24 million co-financing for reoriented IPA I funds) and from various EU instruments (ENI €381 million, IPA €243 million, DCI €16 million), the Fund has now reached a total volume of €733 million. It is also open to all other international donors. The Trust Fund's scope has been expanded to also cover support to IDP's in Iraq fleeing from the interlinked Syria/Iraq/Da'esh crisis, to provide flexibility to support affected countries also with hosting non-Syrian refugees, and to provide support in the Western Balkans to non-EU countries affected by the refugee crisis.
Within the first year of operations, a total of €427 million have already been adopted and allocated for priority programmes in support of basic education and child protection, training and higher education, better access to healthcare, improved water and waste-water infrastructure, as well as support to resilience, economic opportunities and social inclusion. The most recent actions were adopted by the Board between March and May 2016 for €60 million: €20 million for refugee child education in Jordan, €25million for higher education and training for young Syrians in the region, and €15 million to provide support to manage the influx of migrants and refugees in the Western Balkans.
While more than €100 million are disbursed and €200 million is already contracted, Fund management is currently finalizing project contracting for the remaining €227 million of the adopted actions. New actions for the remaining funding of close to €300 million are currently being developed in close coordination with government counterparts in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan in immediate follow-up of the London conference and the proposed compacts. In partnership with the main refugee host governments, all Trust Fund-financed actions are aligned and implemented in accordance with the refugee crisis response plans of the affected countries, in particular the Jordan Response Plan 2016-2018, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, and the national plans in Turkey and Iraq, as part of the regional UN refugee and resilience response framework in this regard.
€152.5 million are being invested in education to provide a massive scale-up of support to the Ministries of Education in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan enabling them to enrol more than 200,000 additional refugee children in school, while also providing for accelerated learning programmes, non-formal and early childhood education and child protection activities. It comprises 3 levels of action: (i) a multi-country programme with UNICEF focusing on Lebanon and Turkey, (ii) several multi-country actions by European NGO groupings focusing on retention support, non-formal and early childhood education, and (iii) additional direct support of €20 million to the Jordanian Ministry of Education. Together, these actions will target up to 587,000 school-age children and adolescents that are currently out-of-school. As a result the EU Trust Fund financing will contribute substantially to closing the remaining gap to achieve the goal of bringing all refugee children into education.
€138 million have been allocated for resilience & local development projects responding to the urgent need of improving economic opportunities for refugees and vulnerable host communities beyond dependency on humanitarian relief. These are implemented through a mix of single-country and multi-country activities by European NGOs, EU Member States development agencies (GiZ, Expertise France, AECID, Italian Cooperation, AfD), and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. The projects target more than 200 communities and 400,000 people across the region and notably in Turkey, addressing basic financial needs of vulnerable families, engaging unemployed and disillusioned youth through work, skills development and community engagement in preparation of a future return to Syria, while also mitigating tensions between host and refugee communities.
A €55 million health programme aims to widen and enhance access of refugees across the region to primary, secondary and tertiary health care, psycho-social support, and protection from sexual and gender-based violence. It will reach and benefit at least 700,000 refugees with a focus on Turkey and Lebanon. In addition, specific healthcare support is foreseen in northern Iraq.
€25 million are used for a water, sanitation and hygiene programme helping Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, where the needs for supporting municipal water and wastewater services are biggest. It is expected to benefit up to 1 million people.
€37 million are targeting long-needed support for young Syrians to pursue higher education and TVET. While before the war, 20% of 18-25 year old Syrians were enrolled in higher and further education, this has dropped to less than 5% among the same age group today among the refugees. With partners such as DAAD, British Council, Campus France, EP-Nuffic, Stichting Spark, and the German-Jordanian University, several thousand course placements and scholarships will be made available in the region, focusing on Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and northern Iraq.
Refugees from Syria are now the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation with over 4.8 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and the wider region needing help on a daily basis. Countries bordering Syria are reaching a dangerous saturation point, particularly Lebanon, which hosts almost 1.1 million Syria refugees and has, along with Jordan, the largest per capita refugee population in the world. Turkeyis currently hosting more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees, the largest number of Syrian refugees in one country in the world.
In Iraq, 10 million people are in need of assistance , 3.4 million people have been internally displaced in the past two years alone, and more than 200,000 Iraqi refugees need help in Turkey, Jordan, and other host or transit countries.
The European Union and its Member States collectively are leading the international aid response to help the refugees and their host countries in this crisis of historic proportions. Since 2011, Europe has mobilised €6.4 billion for relief and recovery assistance to Syrians in their country and to refugees and their host communities in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. In addition, the EU has pledged more than €3 billion at the 'Supporting Syria' conference held in London.
The two main priorities for Trust Fund financing emanating from the London conference and the 3RP resilience pillar are education and economic opportunities:
- Promoting educational, protection and engagement opportunities for children and young people in line with the No Lost Generation initiative in order to contribute to achieving the London conference commitment that by the end of the 2016/17 school year 1.7 million children – all refugee children and vulnerable children in host communities – will be in quality education with equal access for girls and boys, and to prepare young people for work, by increasing access to vocational training.
- Reduce the pressure on countries hosting refugees by investing in livelihoods and social cohesion and supporting them in providing access to jobs and education that will benefit both refugees and host communities. The aim is to provide a lasting benefit for host countries as well as the tools for Syrians to re-build their own country once they are able to return. Building on the bold commitment of host governments to open up their labour markets to refugees, alongside their determined efforts to create new jobs for their own populations, provide support in areas such as access to external markets, access to concessional financing and increased external support for public and private sector job creation and employment creation programs.
In addition, the Trust Fund now supports other important development sectors, including municipal services and infrastructure in most affected host communities, access to health care, and higher education.
In its Communication of 23 September 2015 with proposals on Managing the refugee crisis the Commission i.a. proposed a substantial increase of funding in support of Syrian refugees and their host countries through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the 'Madad Fund'. This was echoed in the statement of the Informal meeting of EU heads of state or government on migration the same day: "We ask the EU institutions and our Governments to work speedily on the Priority Actions proposed by the Commission. We want operational decisions on the most pressing issues before the October European Council, along the following orientations: … assist Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis, including through a substantial increase of the EU's Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis ("Madad Fund");"
In line with the Fund's objective to foster a genuine European response in partnership with the host governments in the region, the Trust Fund in recent months succeeded to encourage and better connect European aid delivery capacities. As a result, up to 75% of the Fund’s projects could potentially be implemented by European partners (Development agencies of EU Member States, European NGOs, Red Cross societies) in partnership with host governments This will significantly boost the EU's partnership with host governments and affected populations in the region, and also make Europe's response more visible, both as a donor and a doer.
The Trust Fund Board also adopted strategic orientations and priorities for the Fund’s first 1-2 years of operation and its selection criteria for Trust Fund projects. The EU Trust Fund is open to all EU Member States, as well as to other international donors, public or private. It substantially boosts Europe's response to the crisis both as a donor and doer. The Arabic name of the Trust Fund is 'Madad', broadly meaning providing aid and help jointly with others.
For questions, please contact the EU Trust Fund team in DG NEAR at firstname.lastname@example.org