Notwithstanding a rise in tensions between Brussels and Ankara – recently exacerbated by Turkey’s increasingly aggressive stance toward Greece and Cyprus – the European Commission will be approving an additional 3 billion euros in funding for Syrian refugees living in Turkey, EU officials said on Wednesday.
The fresh injection of funds will extend the European Union’s deal with Turkey for stemming the flow of asylum seekers into the bloc for an additional two years through 2019 after a contraction of 97 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year when the migration crisis started.
“From helping children attend school to giving vulnerable families access to essential services, the EU’s humanitarian aid for refugees in Turkey has delivered tangible results,” said Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides of the first package of 3 billion euros granted in 2016, adding that “1.2 million refugees have benefited from EU humanitarian support through our largest ever cash assistance program.”
Turkey has already taken in 3.5 million refugees from Syria and the funds from the European Commission are used to support the agencies that help them, mainly the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos clarified on Wednesday.
He added that an EU-Turkey summit scheduled for March 26 in the Bulgarian city of Varna is expected to “clarify many aspects of EU-Turkish cooperation,” adding that it is in the best interests of Turkey and Europe that the understanding pertaining to the migrant deal continues.