EU Pledges $85 Million to Turkey for Syrian Refugees, Despite ISIS Operations in Turkey

EU Pledges $85 Million to Turkey for Syrian Refugees, Despite ISIS Operations in Turkey

The European Union has announced that it will give Turkey $85 million to help the nation support almost two million refugees from the Syrian Civil War. The donation to the Erdogan government overlooks Turkey’s role in helping the Islamic State, as fighters routinely use the nation to cross into and fight in Syria.

In a visit to the capital, Ankara, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the seven-figure donation and vowed the the European Union was committed to helping Turkey care for the refugees pouring into the country to escape the violence in Syria. Mogherini said that government officials also discussed with her ways to prevent Islamic State fighters from using Turkey as a base, though she did not provide details on that discussion.

“Europe stands firmly with Turkey and is determined to play its role to the full to bring a lasting political solution to this regional crisis and humanitarian strategy,” Mogherini said in public statements following meetings with officials.

Multiple reports have accused the Turkish government of providing safe haven for Islamic State jihadists. One anonymous Islamic State jihadist made public statements in an interview claiming that Turkey has shown ISIS “understanding,” without which they could not have made such inroads in Syria. Other reports claim that Turkey has become one of the most active markets in which the Islamic State can sell oil stolen in Iraq and Syria on the black market, while others still note that there may be active jihadist cells in Turkey, in addition to allies.

The Erdogan administration, which has come under fire for increasingly implementing Islamist laws, has done little to stop the Islamic State’s free movement on its border with Syria. While Erdogan promised “military or logistics” help to fight ISIS, Turkey has not joined the US-led coalition fighting ISIS or actively worked in any overt way to stop their takeover of Syria and Iraq, in part due to their opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime enemy of the Islamic State.

The Turkish government has, meanwhile, accused the West of having a hand in aiding the Islamic State, rather than deny that they have done just that. The World Bulletin notes that, in recently comments to the public, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru claimed that “Western countries bear great responsibility” in the Syrian refugee crisis, and as such should “do more” to help refugees. 

Syrian refugees in Turkey suffer through great humiliation. Women in particular, are often forced into prostitution to support their families or married off to Turkish husbands. Girls as young as 12 are also sold as brides by Turks who make forced marriages their business. The government does little to stop the trade, as it forces Syrians to integrate into Turkish life and the Syrian husbands of women forced into prostitution often withstand it to feed their children.