By Sibel Ugurlu
The European Union leaders on Friday agreed to release the second €3 billion ($3.72 billion) tranche in assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
“We have agreed to allocate the second tranche for Turkey,“ German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters when leaving the EU summit, which dragged into the early morning hours of Friday.
In March 2016, the EU and Turkey reached an agreement to stop irregular migration through the Aegean Sea, and improve the conditions of more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The EU had pledged €6 billion ($7.44 billion) in funding for the refugees, and promised to mobilize the second €3 billion ($3.72 billion) tranche by the end of 2018.
Merkel said Turkey has done a lot for more than 3 million Syrian refugees it has hosted since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
On Thursday, Italy had raised objections to releasing the additional €3 billion aid.
The Italian government demanded stronger solidarity from its EU partners regarding migration.
“The European Council agrees on launching the second tranche of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey [...],” Thursday's summit conclusions said.
Turkey hosts some 3.5 million Syrians, more than any other country in the world. Ankara says it has spent around $25 billion helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
*Ayhan Simsek contributed to this report from BerlinAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.