President Erdogan criticises EU for delay in refugee aid

Turkey's President Erdogan criticises delay in $3.3 billion package of refugee aid promised to Turkey

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the 5th International Women's Labour Meeting.

Updated Mar 10, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised European Union for the delay in the payment of a $3.3 billion support package for refugees.

Under a deal signed in November, Turkey agreed to take efforts to stem the flow of refugees to Europe while the EU promised a financial aid package for the near 3 million refugees living in Turkey, as well as the revival of Turkey’s bid to join the EU and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals.

”Erdogan told a union meeting to mark Women’s Day in Turkey's capital Ankara “that they EU pledged it would give Turkey 3 billion euros but it has been four months and they have yet to give it.”

His criticism came as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in Brussels to meet EU leaders about the refugee crisis.

"“Our prime minister is in Brussels now,"” Erdogan said, adding, “"Hopefully, he will return with this promised money.”"

"“They say ‘'Do not let refugees come.'’ Okay, but we are not the ones sending the refugees. As you can see they arrive by sea. Unfortunately, most of them die," Erdogan stated. 

The president said that Turkish boats have rescued around 100.000 refugees in the Aegean Sea, while boats from other countries were stabbing holes in the refugee rafts.

Video footage previously showed members of the Greek Coast Guard stabbing holes in an inflatable boat full of refugees, including women and children who were trying to reach Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. However, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued them.

Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion of its own resources, more than any other country on the refugees, who number nearly 2.7 million in the country.

The United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR has granted only $445 million in support to Turkey.

More than 850,000 refugees arrived in Greece from Turkey last year, most of them paying smugglers to ferry them to nearby Greek islands often on unseaworthy boats. According to the International Organisation for Migration, 805 refugees died last year.

So far this year, nearly 126,000 refugees have crossed from Turkey to Greece compared to 10,500 in the first three months of 2015 and 321 refugees have been listed as missing or dead while travelling on the Eastern Mediterranean route.

TRTWorld and agencies