Merkel to open new Syrian refugee centre in Turkey: PM

AFP , Tuesday 5 Apr 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Reuters)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will next week inaugurate a new centre for Syrian refugees in the southeastern Turkish city of Kilis built with EU funds, Turkey's prime minister said Tuesday.

"We are going to inaugurate a school and a hospital built in Kilis thanks to EU financing with European leaders led by Mrs Merkel," said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a speech to his ruling party in parliament.

He did not specify which other leaders would accompany Merkel for the April 16 ceremony in Kilis, a town on the Syrian border that houses a massive refugee camp for Syrians who have fled their country's devastating five-year war.

The centre was built under a new agreement between Turkey and the EU which aims to stem mass migration to Europe and the drowning of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in overloaded inflatables.

Turkey has promised to take back irregular migrants who have made it to Greece, and the EU has said that for every Syrian deported to Turkey, another will be resettled directly from the vast migrant camps in the country.

The first 202 migrants were deported from Greece on Monday and a similar number are expected to be expelled Wednesday, officials said.

European leaders hope the agreement will discourage migrants from risking the Aegean crossing that has claimed 366 lives this year alone, and break up the lucrative rackets that smuggled about one million migrants into Europe last year.

Davutoglu hailed the operation, saying the Aegean sea would no longer be a "migrant cemetery".

In return the EU has agreed to double aid to Turkey to six billion euros by 2018 in a bid to improve the lives of the 2.7 million Syrian refugees living there.

It also agreed to accelerate visa-free travel for Turkish citizens and progress in its bid for membership of the bloc.

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