EU approves additional 149 mln euro fund for Syrian refugees in Turkey

The European Council has approved €149.6 million in additional funding from the EU budget to support Syrian refugees in Turkey.

“The purpose of the budget amendment is to continue providing support to refugees and host communities in Turkey, which is currently the country with the largest refugee population in the world,” the council said.

The funds would allow the EU to carry on with a program providing multi-purpose cash assistance to refugees known as the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN).

The ESSN is designed to help 1.8 Syrian refugees in Turkey pay for the things they need most. Refugee families currently receive 155 Turkish lira (about €16) monthly per family member, enabling them to decide for themselves how to cover essential needs like rent, transportation, bills, food and medicine.

After formal approval by the council next week, the draft amending the budget for 2021 will await the approval of the European Parliament.

Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world. Some 3.7 million of them are Syrians who fled the war that continues to ravage their country.

The EU has sought to reform its migration system after a crisis in 2015-2016, when more than a million people arrived, most crossing the Balkans on foot to reach northern Europe.

On March 18, 2016 the European Council and Turkey reached an agreement aimed at stopping the flow of irregular migration via Turkey to Europe. According to the EU-Turkey Statement, all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Turkey in the Greek islands and whose applications for asylum have been declared inadmissible should be returned to Turkey. The EU pledged €3 billion in 2016-2017 and another €3 billion in 2018-2019 to Turkey as its part of the deal.

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