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EU to transfer €220 million to Turkey for improvement of its eastern border security

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The European Commission on Monday adopted a €220 million ($231 million) package for the improvement of border control in Turkey’s east, according to the commission’s website.

The latest funds bring to €1.2 billion the total EU assistance adopted in 2022 to support refugees in Turkey — basic needs, assistance for the most vulnerable and socio-economic support — and for border management, the commission said.

Turkey hosts the largest refugee community in the world, around 4 million since 2015. This includes 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees and 330,000 registered refugees from other countries.

The funds are part of an additional €3 billion, announced in June 2021, following the European Council, to continue EU assistance to refugees in Turkey between 2021 and 2023.

The more than €1.2 billion assistance package adopted this year is composed of four programs:

€400 million to continue cash assistance to support refugees meet their daily basic needs under the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), one of the flagship programs under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. As part of the strategy to transition from humanitarian support to development assistance, the fourth phase of the ESSN continues the provision of cash assistance, while strengthening the linkages and pathways to access the labor market.

€234 million for projects implementing Turkey’s Employment Strategy and Sustainable Social-economic Program for refugees. This assistance focuses on increasing refugee employability, including by providing vocational and skills training, among other support.

€381 million to continue the Complementary-ESSN program focused on providing cash support for the most vulnerable refugees (elderly, handicapped, etc.).

€220 million to support further border control measures at Turkey’s eastern border. This program will notably fund new equipment (surveillance masts, cameras, lightning systems) at the border with Iran and Iraq, as well as training for officials in matters such as the use of border management technologies, migration law, humanitarian border management, fundamental rights, and responding to large-scale mixed migration flows.

Since 2015, the EU has mobilized €9.5 billion for refugees and host communities in Turkey. Yet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan frequently criticizes the EU for not extending sufficient support to Turkey in handling of the refugees.

Erdoğan, who faces a tight election race in 2023, on several occasions vowed to return a million Syrian refugees to their country, as the political and economic cost of hosting the world’s largest refugee population threatens his popularity before elections.

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