As the EU Commission funds its largest humanitarian aid programme, an additional €348m will reach Turkey to address the everyday needs of refugees, while preserving their dignity.

The programme aims to provide humanitarian aid via direct cash transfers, in order for the refugees to cover their essential needs and adjust to everyday life in Turkey. Beginning next month, each refugee family will be granted a debit card, after opening a bank account. A similar system is already running in Jordan and Lebanon.

The cash transfers are aimed to be spent in local markets via this “innovative system that can deliver what people need, where it is needed most, and in the most effective way possible,” said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

The EU and member states finance the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) with €348m under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, the link between the international humanitarian know-how and government services.

This scheme aims to serve both Turkey’s refugees, as the country hosts some 3m, making Turkey the number one partner of the EU in migration crisis, but also as a model for the way the Greek government is to deal with the 55,000 of refugees expected to remain in Greece’s mainland.

According to an EU official, the Turkish scheme will provide refugee families in Turkey with around 100 Turkish Lira (about €30-40 per three-member family). The amount corresponds to the cost of living in the country.

The EU official also suggested that this cost would be recalculated according to each family’s specific needs, and will be adjusted to the corresponding living cost.

The 100 Lira amount, for example, corresponds to a small part of the average monthly disposable salary, but can provide bread, milk, rice and cover part of the refugees’ rent, based on current prices in Turkey. In Greece, however, such an amount would be insufficient.

Debit card system heading to Greece

EU Commissioner Stylianides was scheduled to arrive in Athens on September 9 to discuss the implementation of a similar scheme in Greece. He is to meet with local authorities and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the Red Cross and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

According to one EU official, the reception venues that will host the refugees this winter have been found and the Greek government has guaranteed that conditions will improve for the 55,000 refugees stranded across the Greek mainland.