Greece gets emergency EU assistance for refugee transport costs

27 Oct 15

The European Commission awarded €5.9m in emergency assistance to Greece yesterday to help the country cope with a high number of refugees.

The money comes from the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and is intended to provide assistance for the high number of migrants and refugees arriving on the Eastern Aegean Islands as a result of the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, said he was pleased to announce the assistance, which would enable the transportation of a “significant number” of people in need of international protection.

The funding is intended to fully cover the costs for transportation of at least 60,000 refugees by ferry from the Eastern Aegean Islands to mainland Greece for a period of four months. People will only be transported to the mainland once they have been properly screened, registered and fingerprinted.

Money will also be used to create centres to identify the genuine refugees amongst the new arrivals, known as hotspots, and recently agreed relocation schemes.

Financial support for Greece was anticipated as part of the 17-point plan agreed by EU and Balkan leaders in Brussels on Sunday to better manage flows of refugees through the Balkans.

Other measures included plans to make 100,000 more places available in refugee centres.

The commission also announced yesterday it will increase the level of co-financing for transport of the assistance delivered by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism from 55% to 85%.

The mechanism can be activated by a member state and countries outside of the EU if they are overwhelmed by a crisis, and includes various kinds of assistance such as shelter, medical supplies and expertise.

While the participating states provide the assistance, the commission can co-finance the transport of relief items and experts to the country.

Serbia, Slovenia Hungary and Croatia have all activated the mechanism this year.

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