EU-Turkey to hold refugee summit on March 7

European Council President Tusk says EU-Turkey summit on refugee crisis will take place on March 7 in Brussels

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

International Organization for Migration (IOM) said more than 100,000 refugees have reached European countries so far this year.

EU leaders will hold a special summit with Turkey in Brussels on March 7 to push forward a deal aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.

European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed the summit with a tweet saying joint action with Turkey remains "remains a priority."

Ankara and Brussels signed a deal in November under which Turkey agreed to curb the number of refugees crossing to Greece in return for three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey and the speeding up of its EU membership bid.

Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion of its own resources on the refugees whose number in the country has been climbing to 2.7 million people.

Scores of refugee camps are seen in the image from Turkeys southern province of Kilis bordering Syria.

But pressure to enforce the plan is growing as EU officials say thousands of refugees are still crossing the Aegean daily, after more than one million people made the perilous journey to Europe last year.

Speaking at an EU summit on Thursday, Tusk said the Turkey joint action plan "remains a priority, and we must do all we can to succeed -- this is why we have the intention to organise a special meeting with Turkey in the beginning of March."

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker had suggested on Monday that the summit was likely to be on March 7.

Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled Syria in large numbers following the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012.

One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which hosts the most Syrian refugees in the world according to registration records of the United Nations.

Tens of thousands of Syrians, since early February, have reportedly been fleeing to the Turkish border, after recent attacks by Russian-backed Syrian regime forces and its allies in Aleppo's northern countryside, cutting opposition supply lines to Turkey and swelling refugee numbers in the area to 100,000.

During the civil war, nearly 8 million Syrians are displaced internally while about 5 million have fled the country to the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.