Greece requests aid from EU to help with refugee influx

Economically fragile Greece asks European Union for humanitarian aid to manage number of refugees flocking to its shores

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Syrian refugees arrive on the shores of Greek island of Lesbos, September 7, 2015

Greece on Monday asked the European Union for humanitarian aid in order to keep up with the arrival of refugees who are taking desperate measures to flee war and poverty. 

In order to strengthen aid efforts and manage the “volatile situation,”  the Greek Interior Ministry reported that a request for the EU to activate its civil protection mechanism, a body which coordinates the EU’s humanitarian aid work, has been made.

"The satisfaction of the said request is expected to be of critical assistance to the work of the First Response System, which, under current conditions, is extremely difficult," he said.

Over recent weeks Greece has witnessed a surge in refugees coming to its shores, the majority of them escaping the war in Syria but also from countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, who seek to enter Austria and Germany to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.

The journey is often difficult.

Refugees are reported to have been stranded on Greek islands for weeks and are currently living under worsening conditions. Their lives and safety have also been put at risk by street protests on the Greek island of Lesbos said Kirk Day, the field director of the International Rescue Committee.

"None of these things can be addressed with this many people here,” said Day, describing the current situation as “the midst of a humanitarian disaster."

According to the Greek government's interim Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas, close to 18,000 refugees are on Lesbos, which has the capacity to cater to only about 5,000 of these.

Greece has appealed for more staff, medical and pharmaceutical supplies, clothes and equipment to be sent by the EU, according to the country's Interior Ministry.

An application for further emergency funding of 9.6 million euros has also been made to the EU Commission in order to spur existing aid carried out in the islands of Lesbos, Samos and Kos and in the Turkish border region of Evros, and help fund the construction of a new center on the island of Chios.

According to Greece’s interim economy minister,  Nikos Christodoulakis, the influx of refugees entering Greece has so far cost the country's economy more than 1 billion euros.

TRTWorld and agencies