ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- The European Union was set on Monday to launch a 348 million euros ($391 million) aid project to help the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey -- part of a landmark EU deal with Turkey aimed at curbing the flow of migrants to Europe.
Up to a million refugees living outside of camps are to receive debit cards that will allow them to buy their own food and pay for housing, education and other needs. The cards would be topped up monthly, with payments dependent on the size and needs of the families.
The project, to be launched by EU Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides in Ankara, said the program was "proof of the EU's commitment to (help) Turkey cover the challenge posed by the refugee crisis."
"I am in Ankara for a specific reason: to launch the biggest, largest humanitarian project the EU has ever supported," Stylianides said before the launch.
The program is to be administered by the World Food Program, with help of Turkish Red Crescent, the Turkish crisis management agency and the Turkish ministry for family and social policy.
The European Commission says safeguards are in place to ensure the money is correctly spent.
Turkey is home to an estimated 3 million refugees.
The program is part of an agreement the EU has with Turkey to provide a total of 3 billion euros in 2016 and 2017 to help Turkey support Syrian migrants. The EU has also agreed to fast track membership talks and ease visa restrictions for Turkish citizens traveling to Europe in return for Turkey's cooperation in stopping migrants heading to Europe.
However, plans to loosen visa rules came to a standstill after Turkey balked at the EU's demand that it relax its anti-terrorism laws.