EU Commissioner Hahn travels to southeastern Turkey to visit refugee camps
by Merve Aydoğan
GAZİANTEPMar 05, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Merve Aydoğan
Mar 05, 2016 12:00 am
As Turkey and the European Union prepare for the upcoming summit on March 7, the European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn arrived in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on Thursday where he met with local authorities and visited the refugee camp located in Kahramanmaraş on Friday. The top EU official first met with Gaziantep Governor Ali Yerlikaya, followed by a meeting with Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin, where she said that the international community "played the three monkeys" on the refugee crisis until the Syrian baby, Aylan's, death.
Commenting on the cost of the Syrian civil war over the past five years, Mayor Şahin said that Turkey has taken the crisis "very seriously, not only in humanitarian ways." Şahin said that it was very saddening for the international community, especially referring to the European Union delegations visiting the region, to realize the seriousness of the matter. "Until the death of Syrian baby Aylan, and the refugees arrived at their own borders, the EU delegations visiting the region in Turkey played the three monkeys and tried to disregard it." Continuing on by providing details of the work that was implemented by the Gaziantep municipality, Şahin added that 50,000 housing projects were constructed as TL 450 million ($150 million) was spent on infrastructure. She urged Hahn to provide immediate aid to help toward the education of the Syrian children and said that in the last two years the number of Syrian children getting an education in Gaziantep had increased from 3,000 to 70,000.
Responding to Şahin's remarks, Commissioner Hahn said the EU has spent 7 billion euros on Turkey's EU accession process and underlined that the 3 billion euros of funding under the joint action plan will immediately be used towards the refugees in Turkey. Similarly to Şahin, Hahn also stressed that the most important matter regarding the refugees is education and further said that the EU also aims to keep the refugees in the region, thus meaning in Turkey. Continuing with visits on Thursday, the EU official paid visits to local NGOs as well.