The head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, on Thursday visited the construction site of the new state hospital in Turkey’s southern Kilis province that will provide health services to the local community and Syrian refugees alike.

The 300-bed project is being financed by the EU, managed by the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) and implemented by Turkey’s Health Ministry.

“The construction of this hospital, which is a fully modern hospital with over 300 beds, is part of a European contribution to improve the health structure in the Kilis province, and with this hospital, we are doubling the space available in hospitals in the Kilis province,” Meyer-Landrut told journalists after visiting the construction site.

Kilis, located near the border with Syria, has seen its population double due to an influx of Syrian refugees.

Meyer-Landrut pointed out that Kilis is one of the provinces with the highest percentage of Syrian refugees.

According to the CEB, the hospital is expected to be operational by October 2021.

The ambassador also visited the refugee health center as well as the Elbeyli temporary refuge center.

Going on to Gaziantep to continue his visits in the region and to hold several meetings, Meyer-Landrut stopped at the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Institute, which was established in collaboration with the EU. The envoy underlined the significance of mutual cooperation between Turkish and EU institutes as well as artists within the scope of dialogue with civil society.

Meyer-Landrut had earlier met with Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin.

Saying that the EU has finalized the transfer of 6 billion euros (about $7.3 billion) to be used in projects for migrants according to the deal between Ankara and Brussels in 2016, Meyer-Landrut said the bloc expects the projects to be implemented, mostly by local authorities, after the transfer of the promised amount in the migrant deal. He added that cooperation with Gaziantep will be strengthened with the new projects due to the province’s position as an important hub for refugees.

Şahin, for her part, said the municipality created a “Gaziantep model” in its relations with refugees, carrying out special projects for children’s rights, women’s rights and human rights. The veteran mayor would like to continue working with the EU delegation on joint projects for refugees.

Hosting more than 3.6 million Syrians, Turkey signed the agreement with the EU in on March 18, 2016, to reduce the influx of migrants taking the dangerous Aegean Sea route to Europe by enacting stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of Syrian migrants living in Turkey. Despite significant developments controlling migration traffic, the EU has not fully delivered on its commitments stated in the deal.

Under the deal, Turkey was promised 6 billion euros in financial aid, which was initially designed to be given to the country in two stages and to be used by the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian migrants. Visa freedom for Turkish citizens was also a perk of the agreement and the customs union was to be updated.



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