Top EU diplomat promises Turkey pledged refugee aid will arrive soon

The European Union must do more to help Turkey host millions of Syrian refugees, the bloc's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday, while also promising that a 3-billion-euro (3.2-billion-dollar) aid pledge would soon reach those in need.

"We have to better support Turkey in the incredible work it is doing to host and protect an enormous number of refugees," she said at a press conference in Ankara.

Mogherini called on Turkey to improve its practices in managing "the flows of refugees and also of irregular migrants has to be done in a better way."

Asked about the large sum of money pledged last year to help the Syrian refugees, which was agreed as part of a deal with Turkey to stem migration flows to the EU, Mogherini said she was "confident" the bloc would deliver its promises.

She stressed that "this is not money going into hands of the Turkish government," but would be allocated to projects aiding the refugees themselves.

Turkey hosts about 2 million refugees from Syria and hundreds of thousands more from other countries, including Iraq. Many migrants use Turkey as a gateway to reach Greece, an EU member, often taking dangerous boat rides to get there.

"EU member states are watching very closely whether the number of irregular migrants goes down due to Turkish actions," said Johannes Hahn, the commissioner for European neighbourhood policy.

Mogherini also reiterated calls from Brussels for Turkey to reach an "immediate ceasefire" with Kurdish militants in the south-east of the country, while condemning terrorist attacks. She and Hahn called for a renewal of the peace process, which broke down violently in July.

Last update: Mon, 25/01/2016 - 13:22

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