Turkish authorities have censured the European Union for its way of earmarking humanitarian funds to Syrian refugees in Turkey, saying much of the aid money is not being actively used for the needs of asylum seekers.
“Unfortunately, the spending mechanism of the EU funds are not working fast,” Turkey’s EU Ministry said on Saturday, adding that a substantial amount of the funds promised two years ago by the EU for helping Syrian refugees in Turkey “has effectively not been used in the field.”
The ministry said the EU had provided Syrian refugees with only 1.78 billion euros of a total of 6 billion euros ($7.20 billion) agreed upon in two deals in 2015 and 2016. Of that, it added, some 1.3 billion went to international organizations and the rest were earmarked to the three Turkish ministries of education, health and interior.
It said Turkey had used more than $30 billion of its national funds for the needs of Syrians who have arrived in the country since war broke out in the neighboring country in early 2011.
Turkey has repeatedly argued that the EU funds should be given to the government in Ankara. The EU rejects the demand, saying specialized agencies and non-governmental institutions would be used to channel the money to refugees in need.
Turkey and the EU signed a huge deal for the relocation of refugees in March 2015 after more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean to the shores of Greece. The EU agreed to dedicate funds while revitalizing Turkey’s EU accession bid and allowing Turks visa-free travel to the Schengen Zone, which includes many EU countries and some others in Europe. Those privileges, which have yet to be fully materialized, came in return for Turkey’s efforts to contain the refugee flow on its coasts and to accept those sent back by EU authorities in Greece.