There is no doubt that Turkey has a great burden on its shoulders, Denmark's Minister of Immigration, Integration and Housing, İnger Stöjberg, said Tuesday, referring to the millions of Syrian refugees in the country, adding that Ankara has been quite professional and successful in approaching this burden.
Visiting an accommodation center in the southern province of Kilis, Stöjberg met with Syrian refugees in the region and received information regarding the services and activities provided for them, from vocational training courses to kindergartens.
Since 2011, Turkey has received a constant flow of displaced Syrians fleeing the conflict and their numbers have expanded from mere thousands to millions. So far, Turkey has spent more than $30.2 billion on their well-being.
The conflict in Syria that started in 2011 has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced more than 5 million people to flee, while more than 7 million have been internally displaced. The refugees mainly took shelter in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon with Turkey hosting the largest number of refugees. Some have sought to reach Europe via the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, but hundreds have died en route to Greece and other littoral countries.
Following her visits, Stöjberg stated that although she has paid visits to many refugee camps all over the world, she has never come across ones with higher standards than those in Turkey.
Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) has led the efforts to shelter the refugees. Originally set up to help disaster victims, AFAD was tasked with accommodating refugees amid the Syrian crisis. At 14 accommodation centers, including tent camps and modern prefabricated housing units, AFAD hosts 174,256 Syrian refugees. The rest either live in houses they rent or bought, or in homes provided by charities in Turkey's 81 provinces. Modern camps provide refugees access to all the basic services, from education to vocational training courses. Education is the main concern for refugees as youth and children make up the majority of Syrians taking shelter in Turkey.
She further underlined that the Turkey-EU refugee deal has made a great difference in responding to the refugee crisis.
Ankara and Brussels signed an agreement in 2016 to find a solution to the influx of refugees heading to the union. According to the deal, Turkey was promised a total of 6 billion euros ($6.72 billion) in financial aid, which was initially designed to be given to the country in two stages and be used by the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian refugees. Visa freedom for Turkish citizens was also promised in the agreement.
Additionally, the customs union was also to be updated in accordance with the deal. In exchange for these EU promises, Turkey took the responsibility of discouraging irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of more than 3.5 million Syrians living in Turkey.
Despite significant developments in the control of migration traffic, the EU could not deliver on its commitments stated in the deal.