Turkey, EU work to speed up flow of European funds for Syrian refugees

Turkey, EU work to speed up flow of European funds for Syrian refugees

Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Turkey, EU work to speed up flow of European funds for Syrian refugees


Turkey and the European Commission have begun technical work to overcome bureaucratic obstacles and accelerate the release of 3 billion Euros to Syrian refugees, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak announced Dec. 26.

“We are now working on it,” Kaynak told the Hürriyet Daily News during a visit to the Doğan Media Center on Dec. 26. 

The decision to work on the matter was taken during Kaynak’s meeting with the European commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, and the head of the EU delegation in Ankara, Ambassador Christian Berger, in the southeastern Anatolian province of Kahramanmaraş around 10 days ago. 

The EU has agreed to deliver 3 million euros to Turkey in a bid to provide humanitarian support to Syrian refugees being sheltered on Turkish territories as part of a migrant deal that was signed on March 18. Turkey has accused the EU of taking too long to release the funds, with the EU responding about the need to follow proper bureaucratic procedures. 

“I told them that there is a risk of creating a lost generation which could pose a threat not only to Turkey and Syria but to all of Europe,” Kaynak said, intimating that the delay in providing the necessary education and other social and economic services to Syrian youth could work as a recruitment tool for various terrorist organizations. 

“They say, ‘We have released 2.4 billion euros.’ We say, ‘We have only received a small part of the 3 billion euros.’ In fact, both are true. They have their own producers, we have our own. Therefore, we need to find a formula,” said the deputy minister. 

The EU is trying to move in line with their regular producers under very irregular conditions, Kaynak said. “If we continue with the EU’s producers, the release of the funds will take around two years or at least one year. Just think about what will happen to the Syrians in this one-year period.” 

EU softens conditions 

The EU wanted to allocate its funds for Turkey’s current expenditures instead of sponsoring school or hospital constructions, the deputy minister said. “We are talking about providing education and health services. Where will these children be educated? In the fields? No. But now this issue is now resolved.”      

“What we tell them, ‘Let’s spend the money and you will audit it.”

Villages instead of camps

Kaynak, who is responsible for dealing with the nearly 3 million refugees, also shared the government’s plans to handle social and economic problems stemming from the mostly Syrian refugees in Turkey. Admitting that no permanent solutions had been sought for refugees in the early days of the Syrian crisis, Kaynak underlined that the government was now focused on schooling around 900,000 Syrian children and providing employment for youngsters. 

“The population growth rate among Syrians is too high. It’s believed that in times of war people tend to reproduce more in a bid to continue their line. Around 180,000 Syrian children were born in Turkey,” he said. 

Kaynak also stressed that a detailed census would be conducted regarding Syrians to better profile them and deliver services. 

Establishing civil life in northern Syria 

Kaynak also touched on the Syrians who have been evacuated from Aleppo and might opt to come to Turkey.

He underlined that only a small portion of Syrians had arrived in Turkey, as a majority opted to stay in Idlib, adding that they consequently decided to decelerate their efforts to create new tent camps. 

“Another idea we have been pondering is whether we should establish living villages instead of refugee camps. This also reflects our plans to create conditions for civil life in the areas we secured from ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” he said. Kaynak referred to an area called the Marea-Jarablus line in northern Syria as part of Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation. 

“There are around 650,000 people living in this area. Around 180,000-190,000 of them have no shelters. We are thinking about establishing some villages where these people enjoy living together and fulfill their fundamental needs. We need to establish civilian life in this region,” he said.