EU Commission announces extra €83m for refugees in Greece

Written by Martin Banks on 19 April 2016 in News
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The additional funds will be used to help improve the living conditions of refugees in Greece.

The European Commission has announced it will commit an additional €83m to improve conditions for refugees in Greece.

The funds will come from the new "emergency assistance instrument" tabled by the Commission last month to improve living conditions for refugees in Greece.

The scheme was set up to help member states cope with crises, such as large numbers of refugees.


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Funding will be made available immediately to the UNHCR, the International Federation of the Red Cross and six international NGOs. 

The European humanitarian aid and crisis management Commissioner Christos Stylianides signed the first contracts in Athens on Tuesday.

He said, "We have to restore dignified living conditions for refugees and migrants in Europe as swiftly as possible. With the first projects active on the ground we are showing a concrete example of how the EU delivers on the challenges Europe faces.

"The funding will go to humanitarian aid partners that are working hand-in-hand with the Greek government and local NGOs to ensure that aid is provided in a well-coordinated and structured way in as many places as possible," said Stylianides.

On Monday, the Commissioner met with Ioannis Mouzalas, the Greek minister responsible for migration policy, as well as the mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis, and visited projects that will support refugees in Eleonas.

The Commission says the funding will help provide tens of thousands of refugees and migrants in Greece with primary health care, food, better hygiene conditions, child friendly spaces and construct temporary housing.

The support announced on Tuesday comes in addition to overall EU support provided to tackle the refugee crisis in Greece.

Since 2015, Greece has already received €181m in emergency funding from the asylum, migration and integration fund and the internal security fund to manage the refugee crisis, on top of €509m already allocated under these funds for the Greek national programme 2014-2020.

Meanwhile, the first round of EU-sanctioned deportations of 66 people from the Greek island of Chios to Turkey on April 4 was "rushed, chaotic, and violated the rights of those deported," says Human Rights Watch.

In Turkey, the detained deportees lost contact with family and friends held in Greece, and Turkish authorities have not allowed visits by rights groups or the United Nations.

"In the mad dash to start the deportations deal with Turkey, the EU and Greece tossed rights to the wind, including for people who wanted to seek asylum," said Fred Abrahams, Human Rights Watch associate director for programme. 

"The abusive deportations expose the fundamental flaws in the EU's expedited mass returns to a country that cannot be considered safe."

The deportations from Chios and Lesbos were carried out by Greek police with 180 "escort officers" from the EU border agency, Frontex. 

The Greek government and Frontex said that most of the deportees were from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan, and that none of the people returned to Turkey had wanted to seek asylum in Greece.

 

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Martin Banks is a journalist for the Parliament Magazine

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