By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) - The European Commission on Friday adopted a new set of assistance measures worth €1.41 billion (nearly $1.6 billion), ensuring EU support to refugees and host communities in Turkey.
According to a statement released from the Commission, the program will focus on the areas of health, protection, socio-economic support and municipal infrastructure.
"The new measures are part of the second tranche of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, bringing the total amount already allocated to €5.6 billion out of €6 billion since 2016, with the remaining balance due to be allocated over the summer," it read.
In March 2016, EU and Turkey reached an agreement to take stricter measures against human smugglers and discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea, and improve the conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, with the EU vowing €6 billion ($6.8 billion) to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted in the country.
With this new allocation of funds, the EU continues to deliver its support committed to Turkey, which hosts largest group of refugees in the world, Commissioner Johannes Hahn was quoted in the statement as saying.
Turkey currently hosts more than 4 million refugees, including 3.6 million Syrians, more than any other country in the world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said that Ankara has spent over $37 billion for the Syrians alone.
The EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey was set up in 2015 in response to the European Council's call for significant additional funding to support Syrian refugees in Turkey, according to the statement.
"It has a total budget of €6 billion divided into two equal tranches of €3 billion each. Out of the operational funds of €6 billion, over €2.35 billion has already been disbursed, €3.5 billion contracted and €5.6 billion allocated, with over 80 projects already rolled out," it read.