European Court of Auditors doubts all EU funds reach refugees in Turkey

EU funding has helped refugees in Turkey, but Ankara’s refusal to reveal their names raises doubts about whether the money is reaching all who need it, the bloc’s spending watchdog reported Tuesday, cited by AFP.

The European Court of Auditors reports focused on 1.1 billion euros in initial EU cash-based projects to millions of Syrian and other refugees in Turkey under a 2016 deal designed to stem migration to the bloc, the Focus Information Agency reported.

The audit did not cover another 2 billion euros from individual EU member states for shelter, food, clothing, schooling, and health care.

“We can see that the money goes to the refugees, but we cannot concretely say that all money goes there. There is a risk,” ECA member Bettina Jakobsen said.

The ECA said it could not track refugees from registration to payment because the Turkish authorities refused to identify individuals and what they receive, citing data protection laws.

Jakobsen said it is the first time in the more than three years she has worked for the ECA that she has not received requested documents.

However, Jakobsen and other ECA officials said UN agencies and others running the projects were able to “mitigate the risk” by setting up internal controls.

The ECA recommended that the European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation EU, press Turkey to grant project partners access to data on beneficiaries as Brussels implements the next tranche of aid.

Another 3 billion euros in EU aid is due to reach the nearly 4 million refugees in Turkey, mainly Syrians who fled civil war.

Overall, the ECA said, “the humanitarian projects have helped refugees address their basic needs but have not always delivered the expected value for money.”

It cited one example in which Brussels and Ankara disagreed how to carry out projects for water and wastewater management and solid waste collection.

Most of the refugees are not housed in camps but have made their way to Turkish cities.

It cited another example where the “Commission did not consistently and comprehensively assess the reasonableness of the budgeted costs.”

Under the aid-for-cooperation deal sealed in March 2016, Turkey has drastically reduced the flow of asylum seekers to Europe which peaked in 2015 when more than 1 million arrived. (turkishminute.com)

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