I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 24 together.
MSF Ireland informed my Department on 15 June that the organisation globally had taken the decision that it would no longer accept European Union or member state funding for its humanitarian programmes. It explained that MSF opposed the EU-Turkey refugee facility agreed by the European Council and believes that EU asylum and migration policies have become increasingly more restrictive and inconsistent with the organisation’s humanitarian principles. While not sharing this analysis, I respect the right of the group to take that decision and I recognise its important, continuing humanitarian role.
MSF is funded mainly by private donations. Its global income amounts to some €1 billion. In recent years, about €50 million of that has been from the European Union and its member states. Through Irish Aid, we have provided a total of €5.6 million in humanitarian funding to MSF since 2013. It had applied for further funding this year and was due to receive some €1.6 million in humanitarian funding for programmes in Africa. In view of its decision not to accept it, this funding will be reprogrammed by Irish Aid.
In regard to Turkey, I believe it appropriate at this point to place on record the deepest sympathy of the Government and the people of Ireland with the victims and families of the appalling terrorist attack on Atatürk Airport in Istanbul on 28 June. We believe that Turkey has a key role to play in tackling the migration crisis and the unprecedented level of humanitarian need caused by the Syrian crisis. The EU and Turkey have engaged deeply on developing joint approaches to the crisis, which have been discussed at meetings of the European Council, most recently in March and June.
The discussions in March were framed by the set of principles agreed at the previous EU meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister on 7 March.
In the interim, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, had advanced work on a potential agreement, to ensure that partners’ concerns were addressed and that the proposed deal was compatible with EU and international law. The June European Council noted that the legislation recently adopted by Turkey on the treatment of Syrians and other nationalities allows for the return of migrants to Turkey in full respect of the provisions of the asylum procedures directive.
The EU has initially agreed to provide a financial package of an additional €3 billion, with the establishment of a refugee facility for Turkey to co-ordinate and streamline actions financed by this package. The facility provides a co-ordination mechanism for actions financed by the EU and member states. It is designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are addressed effectively and comprehensively. Ireland’s contribution over four years will be just under €23 million, starting with €5 million this year. Ireland is participating in the facility’s steering committee, which meets in Brussels.
The EU is also committed to deciding on further financial assistance for refugees in Turkey. It has also put in place humanitarian aid to assist with the provision for asylum seekers and refugees in neighbouring Greece.