EU body debates release of €3B in Turkey refugee funds

By Gokhan Ergocun

ANKARA (AA) – A group of EU officials responsible for coordinating union's funds for refugees in Turkey has debated the details of a €3 billion ($3.47 billion) support.

The steering committee of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey discussed in Brussels on Monday the strategic orientation of the fund, according to a press release issued by the EU Commission on Tuesday.

The press release said that the committee also debated the implementation progress of projects to improve lives of Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey.

The committee discussed priority areas and the importance of finding a sustainable transition mechanism to provide continuing support to the refugees in need in the future with EU members' representatives, the press release said.

"The committee also discussed the updated needs assessment which will be finalized at the end of June, and which will be used as a basis for programming of the second €3 billion tranches," it added.

Turkey hosts nearly 3.6 million Syrian refugees, according to a refugee association data.

"Turkey is making a remarkable effort to host more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees; the EU needs to act swiftly to ensure that funds under the second tranche can be mobilised quickly," Johannes Hahn, the commissioner for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations, said in the press release.

He stressed that the EU continues to show its commitment to supporting the Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Christos Stylianides, the commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, said: "With 72 projects underway, we remain committed to helping Turkey host the largest refugee population in the world."

"Our humanitarian funding is helping the most vulnerable refugees meet their basic needs, access health services, and education, and receive protection," he added.

The EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey was set up in 2015 to support Syrian refugees in Turkey with a €3 billion ($3.47 billion) budget from the EU budget and the EU members.

In March 2016, EU and Turkey reached an agreement to stop irregular migration through the Aegean Sea, and improve the conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

"As part of the EU-Turkey March 2016 Statement, the EU committed to contribute €3 billion more once the first €3 billion were used and implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement continued satisfactorily," the press release noted.

As of the beginning of 2018, Turkey has nearly spent $30 billion for the refugees it hosts, according to a report by the Turkish parliament.

In 2016 Turkey was named the most generous nation as per percentage to gross national income and it came in second after the U.S. on a list of most charitable countries in the world.

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