The European Commission has adopted two financing decisions, worth €560 million ($631 million) in total, to support inclusive quality education initiatives and access to higher education for refugees in Turkey as well as for migration and the country’s border protection, a commission statement said on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the funds will be sent “as part of an additional €3 billion ($3.3 billion) announced by [European Commission] President von der Leyen in June 2021 to continue the EU assistance to refugees in Turkey for the period of 2021-2023.”
On the occasion of the adoption of the two measures, Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said: “This new funding … will ensure that hundreds of thousands of refugee children can continue going to school and receiving quality education, which is key to secure future job perspectives and in view of the overall socio-economic recovery. We will also provide financing to the authorities to address migratory challenges and increase border protection, not least in view of the evolving situation at the Eastern border of Turkey.”
Turkey currently hosts roughly 4 million registered migrants, the largest refugee population in the world, including 3.6 million from war-torn Syria and 370,000 from other countries.
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.
“All €6 billion ($6.7 billion) has been fully contracted and over €4.35 billion ($4.90 billion) disbursed. The balance will be disbursed as projects progress on the ground and completed during the period of 2022-24, with final disbursements planned for 2025,” the commission said, adding that the EU had allocated over €535 million ($603 million) in bridge humanitarian funding to refugees in Turkey in 2020.
The two measures come following €325 million ($366 million) in humanitarian assistance announced earlier in December, also as part of the additional €3 billion package to support refugees in Turkey, providing more than 1.5 million refugees in the country with monthly cash transfers to cover their essential needs.