EU, TURKEY AGREEMENT ON REFUGEES DELIVERING SOME RESULTS

BRUSSELS, -- The European Union (EU) said that the EU-Turkey Statement on refugees is delivering results despite some challenges.

As a result, the EU pledged to continue its financial assistance for Turkey in dealing with refugee crisis.

Since the EU-Turkey refugee deal came into force in March, the average daily refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to the Greek islands has dropped from 1740 to 94, according to the report released by the European Commission. Meanwhile, the number of losses of lives also fell.

Meanwhile, under the so-called "refugee swap" mechanism, 1,614 Syrian refugees have been resettled from Turkey to Europe and the return of 578 irregular migrants has been carried out from the Greek islands to Turkey.

The EU said the deal had delivered "steady results" in the face of many challenges. However, it is widely believed that the implementation pace of the deal was lagging far behind.

The report said the total numbers of arrivals from Turkey to the Greek islands since June 2016 was 9,250, representing an average daily arrival of around 81.

Although the numbers were 97 percent lower than in August 2015, the refugees remained in Greece awaiting relocation has increased to around 60,500.

The EU pointed out the challenges ahead in the report, including the slow pace of resettlement of refugees, and the pressure on reception facilities on the Greek islands, saying it would speed up asylum applications as well as the pace of returns to Turkey, and increase reception capacity in Greek islands.

Meanwhile, the EU reiterated its call for its member states to accelerate their receiving of Syrian refugees from Turkey under the relocation and resettlement schemes.

The EU-Turkey deal to curb refugee influx into Europe came into force in March. Under the agreement, Turkey agreed to take back all undocumented migrants, while the EU has Syrian refugees resettled from Turkish camps on a one-for-one basis.

As part of the deal, Brussels promised to introduce visa liberalization for Turkish citizens on the condition that Turkey must fulfill all benchmarks.

According to the report, Turkey still has to meet 7 benchmarks to secure visa free travel, including two benchmarks for which a longer timeframe for implementation is required.

After accessing the results achieved under the deal, the EU said in another statement on Tuesday that it will continue providing financial assistance to Turkey in dealing with refugee challenges.

Currently, Turkey hosts more than 2.7 million registered Syrian refugees. The EU has pledged to provide 3 billion euro aid in the year of 2016 and 2017 under the the so-called "Facility for Refugees in Turkey" mechanism.

Source: Nam News Network