Germany will continue to be in touch with Turkey on the refugee subject, especially regarding their needs, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday, underlining the huge burden the country is carrying hosting Syrian refugees. Speaking at a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Berlin, Merkel said that she is having constant talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the Turkey-EU refugee deal.
"We will have a constant talk with Erdoğan regarding what kind of needs do the refugees in Turkey have, since the country has accepted a really large number of refugees," she expressed, reiterating her support for the refugee deal.
Ankara and Brussels signed an agreement in 2016 to find a solution to the influx of refugees heading to the union.
According to the deal, Turkey was promised a total of 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) in financial aid, which was initially designed to be given to the country in two stages and be used by the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian refugees. Visa freedom for Turkish citizens was also promised to be provided under the agreement.
The customs union was also to be updated in accordance with the deal. In exchange for these promises by the EU, Turkey took the responsibility of discouraging irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of more than 3 million Syrians living in Turkey.
Despite significant developments in the control of migration traffic, the EU could not deliver on its commitments stated in the deal.
Mitsotakis, on the other hand, acknowledged that although according to the deal the refugees should be sent back to Turkey, the conditions in camps in Greece should also have humane conditions. He added that they expect Germany's assistance in providing security on Greek borders.
Human rights groups and local authorities have long criticized Greece for the poor conditions in the country's biggest migrant camp, Moria, operating at almost three times its capacity. Some 600 minors are currently staying in the camp, which is designed to house up to 160, according to the Athens News Agency (ANA). At present, thousands of migrants and refugees spend months in Moria and other overcrowded island camps before their applications can be processed. About 9,000 migrants and refugees are housed in the camp, a collection of tents and shipping containers in a former military base, according to government data released in 2018. Rights groups have warned that the long wait, often without access to information, is harmful to the migrants whose life-threatening journey to Greece and uncertain future has already left many in a fragile mental state.