EU plans to bid humanitarian aid for Greece

EU to propose increased humanitarian aid for Greece, plans to allocate 300 million euros ($325 million) this year to help all EU states in reference to refugee crisis

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A refugee holds a baby as he sits next to the Greek-Macedonian border fence, near the Greek village of Idomenii March 1, 2016.

The European Union is proposing increased humanitarian aid for Greece, where over 20,000 refugees remain trapped after borders were tightened along the Balkans preventing them from heading north to wealthier parts of Europe.

The EU executive's aid and crisis management commissioner will put forward a plan on Wednesday that officials said would allocate 300 million euros ($325 million) this year to helping any EU state, not only Greece, deal with humanitarian crises, and a total of 700 million over the course of three years- to end in 2018.

Beyond 2018, the scheme would continue with further funding.

A European Commission spokesman told reporters the new plan was required "to prevent humanitarian suffering as a result of an unprecedented number of people arriving in the EU."

Margaritis Schinas said the Commission was very concerned over violence on the Greek-Macedonian border.

Macedonia let another 130 people cross its border with Greece early on Wednesday, as more than 8,000 mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees are still waiting to cross to the Greek side of the Idomeni border in deteriorating conditions.

Macedonia had closed its border more than 10 days ago joining other Balkan states including Serbia and EU members Slovenia and Croatia, that imposed a daily limit on the number of refugees allowed to enter.

On Monday, Macedonian police fired volleys of tear gas at refugees, including women and children, who tried to pass a Greek police cordon and break through a barbed wire fence into Macedonia.

Greece has said it cannot cope with the strain of the piling of refugees.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a rapid build-up of refugees at Greece's northern border risks creating a humanitarian disaster.

"Greece cannot manage this situation alone," the UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said on Tuesday.

He also urged all EU member countries to reinforce their capacity to register and process refugees through their national procedures as well as through the European relocation scheme.

Speaking on the same notion, Steffen Seibert,a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Wednesday that "Greece should not be left alone in the situation in which it finds itself."

He also urged Athens to do its part by protecting its border effectively “and push ahead with the construction of functioning hotspots and sufficient accommodation capacities." 

Despite commitments to relocate 66,400 refugees from Greece, countries have so far only pledged 1,539 spaces and only 325 people have actually been relocated.

Since the beginning of 2016, some 131,724 refugees from the conflict-torn countries in the Middle East have crossed the Mediterranean and about 410 others have died at sea, according to the latest figures released by UNHCR.

Meanwhile, camp demolition in France’s Calais enters its third day.

On Monday, French workers began bulldozing half of the "Jungle" refugee camp in the northern port city that is used by thousands of refugees hoping to reach Britain for a better life.

TRTWorld and agencies