Deferring Greek Demands for Sanctions, EU Will Give Turkey Refugee Aid

December 28, 2020

After backing off from vowed sanctions insisted upon by Greece for Turkey’s plan to drill for oil and gas off Greek islands, the European Union will ship another 485 million euros ($591.97 million) to contain refugees and migrants and provide aid.

The EU's executive body, the European Commission, said it will extend to early 2022 programs giving cash assistance to refugees in Turkey to meet their basic needs and the other that provides funds to help educate children.

The commission said they provide much-needed cash to more than 1.8 million refugees and help educate more than 700,000 children. The programs are managed by the Turkish Red Crescent in partnership with the Red Cross and UNICEF.

Money does not go directly to Turkey's government with no indication how that could be enforced as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has an iron grip on the country and had complained the EU was holding back 3 billion euros ($3.66 billion) from an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal.

Turkey is home to almost 4 million refugees, some 70 percent of whom are women and children, and the overwhelming majority of refugees live outside migrant camps but the government has allowed human traffickers to keep sending them to Greek islands.

The EU, which gave Turkey a payment of 3 billion euros, wants to keep the migrants and refugees isolated there after closing its borders to them, dumping the problem largely on Greece, which is holding about 100,000, including 34,000 on islands.

In March, Turkish authorities began waving thousands of migrants through to Europe after dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed in fighting in northern Syria and Erdogan sent 10,000 to the northern land border with Greece and urged them to cross but they were stymied by riot police and army units.

EU leaders in turn accused Erdogan of "blackmail" but then promised to review the deal in an effort to end the chaos at Europe's borders, reluctant to provoke him further in fear he would send more refugees and migrants in the bloc, continuing their policy of appeasement toward him.

According to the European Commission, all 6 billion euros under the EU-Turkey deal has been "committed and contracted, with close to 4 billion euros disbursed." Part of the money, 2.4 billion euros, was earmarked for humanitarian assistance and has been contracted out with no report who got it.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)


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