The European Union plans to spend a total cost of €485 million over the next year for refugees living in Turkey, most of them from Syria and Afghanistan.
The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, said Wednesday that it is extending two programmes until early 2022 – one that provides cash assistance to refugees in Turkey to meet their basic needs and the other that provides funds to help educate children.
Turkey hosts some 4 million refugees and asylum seekers, according to the the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, making it the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. The EU relies on Turkey to stop migrants and refugees from trying to reach the 27 member nations “illegally”.
In 2016, the EU offered Turkey up to €6 billion in aid for Syrian refugees on its territory in line with its commitment to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement. In exchange for Turkey stopping migrants from trying to get to Europe from the Middle East, the EU offered Turkey a fast-tracked EU membership and visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens. The number of refugees in Europe dropped dramatically.
The bloc said after a European Council summit last week that it plans more sanctions against Turkey. But it added that the EU was “prepared to continue providing financial assistance to Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey”.