The situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey and the effects of the budgetary support provided by the EU to the Turkish government were assessed on Wednesday by MEPs.

Representatives of the European Commission briefed MEPs of the Civil Liberties, Foreign Affairs and Development committees, particularly on the results of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey, but also on the general implementation of the EU-Turkey statement, agreed with Ankara in 2016 to halt the flow of refugees from Turkey into the EU.

Several MEPs referred to the unilateral intervention by Turkish forces in North East Syria and insisted that EU funds should not be used to force Syrian population back into their country. Some also complained that the EU has not made any progress in the last years, while the arrival of refugees to European soil decreased, towards the establishment of a well-functioning common asylum system.

Situation of refugees in Greece

Civil Liberties MEPs also discussed the situation on the Greek islands, first with Michalis Chrisochoidis, Greek Minister for Citizens’ Protection, and in a subsequent debate with representatives of the European Commission, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, the EU Asylum Support Office and Médecins sans Frontières.

Most of the speakers praised the efforts by the Greek authorities and criticised the lack of solidarity of other EU member states, while stressing the horrific conditions in which thousands of asylum-seekers live in the Greek islands. MEPs denounced the overcrowding of the facilities, the lack of basic health care and the absence of protection measures for the most vulnerable, among other aspects.