As Turkey’s economy collapses and the value of its currency spirals to record lows, some observers are wondering whether the country will still be able to afford to house millions of refugees.
Over 3.5 million refugees now live in Turkey after having escaped the brutal conflict that has continued for over seven years in neighboring Syria. At the same time, there are at least half a million refugees from other parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa also living in the transcontinental country.
Many of these migrants settled in the country because of a deal Ankara struck with the European Union in 2016. The agreement stipulates that many of the refugees arriving in Greece by boat would be sent back to resettle in Turkey. For every migrant returned, one refugee who was already living in Turkey would be moved into the EU, according to the deal. Priority would be given to migrants who had never tried to enter the EU before.
The EU also agreed to give Turkey around $6.6 billion in assistance to take care of the refugees permanently resettled there.
The refugee deal aimed to relieve Athens of some of the burden of the migrant crisis and shut down the so-called Balkan route, which saw millions of refugees travel through Macedonia and Serbia to reach EU countries. Policymakers in Europe also wanted to disincentivize migrants from making the dangerous journey by boat from Turkey to Greece.