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369 Syrians deported to Turkey through EU fund for refugees
18.5.20
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At the end of April the European Commission slipped out the 'Fourth Annual Report on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey', which summarises how the €6 billion committed by the EU and the member states to projects in Turkey, as part of the March 2016 EU-Turkey deal, has been used. Amongst other things, the funds have paid for the deportation of 369 Syrians from the EU to Turkey.

According to the report, all "operational funds" from the €6 billion has now officially been committed to expenditure. As of 31 December 2019, the Commission had contracted €4.7 billion of projects, with €3.2 billion disbursed.

In a section on "migration management", the report notes that:

"The Facility has covered the costs incurred in the management of returns (transportation, hosting) of 369 Syrians and 1 605 non-Syrians, as well as the construction of a removal centre for 750 people."

There is apparently an ongoing shift from humanitarian to development assistance, with an updated strategy pointing to the need to move to "more sustainable and durable solutions in the context of a protracted crisis and beyond the life-span of the Facility, and the disbursement of EUR 6 billion."

European Commission: Fourth Annual Report on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (COM(2020) 162 final, pdf)

Amongst other things, the report notes (all emphasis added):

"The total number of arrivals from Turkey to the EU in 2019 was 83 333, compared to 56 560 arrivals recorded in 2018 (47% increase). The large majority of arrivals were recorded in Greece. 73 626 people in total arrived by sea and by land to Greece in 2019, 54% more than 2018 (47 915). Arrivals by land in 2019 (13 456) compared to 2018 have decreased by 15% but arrivals by sea (60 151) increased by 87%. However, the overall figure for 2019 of irregular migration on the Eastern Mediterranean Route remains significantly lower than the number of irregular migrants crossing this route in 2015 (885 386)."

"Resettlements from Turkey to the EU under the one-for-one arrangement foreseen in the Statement continued. The total number of resettled persons under the EU-Turkey Statement since 4 April 2016 (as of December 2019) stands at 25 560 (of which 7 020 in the year 2019), while 1 995 migrants have been returned to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement (of which 189 in 2019) and 601 under the Greece-Turkey bilateral protocol. The Voluntary Humanitarian Admissions Scheme is a further simplified resettlement scheme envisaged under the EU-Turkey Statement. The Standard Operating Procedures for the scheme were endorsed by both Turkey and the EU Member States in 2017. According to the EU-Turkey Statement, the scheme will be activated once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU end or at least have been substantially and sustainably reduced. The Commission has continuously encouraged Member States to activate the Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme."

"Two projects were funded under the Facility’s first tranche in this area [migration management]. A first project provided EU support to strengthen the capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard to carry out search and rescue operations. Six life boats were delivered in 2018 and 1 081 Turkish Coast Guard staff have been trained in humanitarian standards. A second project was to support the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement through assistance to the DGMM in the management of returns from the EU and in the day-to-day operations in 21 removal centres. The Facility has covered the costs incurred in the management of returns (transportation, hosting) of 369 Syrians and 1 605 non-Syrians, as well as the construction of a removal centre for 750 people. The project covered costs for medication, food, hygiene kits, clothing, phone cards for irregular migrants apprehended in Turkey and returned from the EU, as well as utility costs of removal centres. The project also financed the salaries of 186 personnel to provide services for migrants in 21 removal centres, including psychologists (24), social workers (17), interpreters (54), food engineers (15), technicians (43) and drivers (33). This project came to an end in December 2019. No specific budget allocation is foreseen for this area under the second tranche."

European Commission: Fourth Annual Report on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (COM(2020) 162 final, pdf)

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