The head of mission in Turkey for the UN agency International Organization for Migration (IOM), Lado Gvilava, spoke to ANSA about phase one of the 2016 EU-Turkey migrant accord, as the EU prepares to disburse the second three-billion-euro installment as part of the agreement. He said that thus far the accord has proven to be "quite positive."
"Turkey has the highest number of refugees in the world in absolute terms, nearly four million," Gvilava said. "It's like a country within a country. And to face this situation, financial and humanitarian resources must be put together," he said. "The European Union understood that the problem is very complex, and can't be solved in a year."
Turkey has resettled 1,783 migrants from Greece with accord
"There are different estimates on how much Turkey has spent to face this crisis," Gvilava said. Since the migrant boom in 2011, he said the country has officially invested more than 30 billion dollars. "Of course the six billion euros provided thus far by the EU can't be sufficient. But the projects started with the first installment have had a significant impact in the field. They have saved many lives and improved the situations of host communities and refugees," he said.
According to the Turkish government, thus far Turkey has brought 1,783 migrants from Greece as part of the accord, in a practice that is strongly stigmatized by NGOs. Of those migrants, over half are from Pakistan or Syria. "IOM has never supported the 'one for one' schema (one relocation in the EU for every irregular migrant sent back to Turkey). These people are put in centers that we can access only with the government's authorization. It's not a process that we can control," Gvilava said.
Gvilava said resettlements as part of the agreement, which have totaled about 25,000 since the time the accord began, are insufficient. "The plans regard the 28 EU countries as well as the US, Canada, and Australia. But globally only 1 percent of the seeking population is involved, chosen on the basis of vulnerability criteria," he said.
Once the emergency is over, Gvilava said the challenge will be in giving Syrians a future. "Often we are forced to react like firefighters at a fire. We provide drinking water, mattresses, basic aid. For a long-term investment, many more resources are needed, but the impact is much stronger because after that, the migrants don't have to depend on humanitarian aid any longer".