EU auditors say 3B euros paid to Turkey provided swift relief to refugees

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 13.11.2018 21:52
Updated 14.11.2018 00:09

EU auditors stated on Monday that the refugee deal inked by EU and Turkey in 2016, also known as the Facility for Refugees, rapidly mobilized 3 billion euros to provide a swift response to the refugee crisis.

"The fund provided to support Syrian refugees in Turkey has reached its objective to provide 3 billion euros within two years," Bettina Jakobsen, a member of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), said Monday in a press conference.

The ECA published a report evaluating the 1.4 billion euros paid to Turkey from the EU budget as a part of the 2016 refugee deal that was designed to slash migration to European countries.

The report revealed that the audited projects provided helpful support to refugees; most of them have achieved their outputs, and the humanitarian projects have helped refugees address their basic needs.

The report pointed out that Turkey hosts the largest refugee population in the world, nearly 4 million people, of whom about 94 percent are living outside refugee camps. It added that Turkey has provided significant and continued support to refugees.

Turkey and the EU signed an agreement in 2016, to solve Europe's most pressing problem, the influx of refugees to the union. The agreement foresees that in exchange for Turkey stemming the refugee flow to Europe, the EU would pay Turkey 6 billion euros in financial aid. The agreement also envisages acceleration in Turkey's EU accession talks and visa-free travel for its citizens.

The EU had fully paid first 3 billion euros tranche for 2016-17 and promised to pay the second tranche for 2018-19 by the end of this year. Although Turkey did its part taking great responsibility, the EU failed to hold up its end of the agreement. The EU has been delaying implementing visa-free travel for Turkish citizens for two years since the deal came in effect.

Irregular arrivals decreased by 99 percent to the EU thanks to Turkey's efforts. The country has drastically reduced the flow of asylum seekers to Europe, which peaked in 2015 when more than one million arrived. Turkey also took back refugees who arrived in Greece from Turkish territories in line with the deal. Ankara has spent more than $32 billion from its own national resources to help and shelter refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

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