EU supports housing scheme for stranded refugees in Greece

European Union pledges to support housing scheme for stranded refugees and asylum seekers in Greece

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A refugee stands behind a banner as people queue up for food at a former Olympic indoor stadium in Faliro, southern Athens on December 14, 2015

The European Union has pledged to provide 88 million dollars (80 million euros) for a housing scheme for refugees and asylum seekers stranded in Greece.

Under the scheme, refugees and asylum seekers will get hotel vouchers or cheques to live in vacant apartments.

The EU Commissioner for Budget and Human resources Kristalina Georgieva signed a deal on Monday for a rent subsidy program which will be launched next year.

Thousands of refugees spent weeks stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border waiting to cross but were finally evacuated and sent back to Athens. They are now sheltered in old venues from the 2004 Olympics or are staying in tents set up in city squares and parks in the Greek capital.

Refugees, who were stranded between Greece and Macedonia, stand in line outside the Tae Kwon Do stadium in Faliro, south of Athens, Greece on December 11, 2015 (Reuters)

This year more than 750,000 refugees and asylum seekers have crossed through Greece, hoping to travel to northern and western Europe where they believed they would have more chance to find work and where asylum means social benefits and protection.

However, some Balkan countries including Macedonia tightened border controls, restricting crossings to nationals from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

While hundreds of thousands of people made their way into Europe, mostly through Greece, in 2015, several clashes took place. In the last two weeks there has been fighting between police blocking the Greek-Macedonian crossing and the railway line running between the two countries and refugees.

TRTWorld and agencies