UNHCR appeals for $95m for refugees’ winter needs

6 Nov 15

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has appealed to donors for more than $95m for Greece and affected countries in the Balkans to protect refugees from harsh winter weather.


Refugees at the Slovenian border

Refugees at the Slovenian border

UNHCR anticipates the flow of people will not relent as weather conditions worsen, with as many as 5,000 people expected to reach Greece each day between November 2015 and February 2016.

William Spindler, UNHCR spokesman, said: “Harsh weather conditions are likely to exacerbate the suffering of thousands of refugees and migrants landing in Greece and travelling through the Balkans, and may result in further loss of life if adequate measures are not taken urgently.

“The plan focuses on putting in place measures to support affected countries, such as Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, in order to avert the risk of humanitarian tragedy and loss of life during the winter months.”

The $96.15m being sought will fund upgrades to UNHCR shelters, reception facilities and water systems in order to protect them against winter chill and damp.

It will also supply emergency shelters such as family tents, refugee housing units and large, tent-like structures called Rubb halls that will be equipped with heating.

UNHCR will also consider providing transport to reception centres in those stretches of road that are not already covered by bus or train services to reduce refugees’ exposure to the elements and expedite access to protection for those who need it.

The UK’s International Development Select Committee recently heard a number of NGOs including UNHCR call for more funding for countries bordering Syria as well as those in the Western Balkans, where donors are often reluctant to provide financial aid.

The European Commission announced yesterday that €10.7m in emergency funding will be provided to Slovenia from the Internal Security Fund ‒ Borders and Visa and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

The money will finance measures taken since 20 September to increase the police presence at the Croatian-Slovenian border, improve first reception capabilities for new arrivals, boost accommodation capacity by 7,500 places and cover the cost of accommodation for police officers deployed from other member states.

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