European Union promises €700 million refugee aid for Greece

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The European Commission has announced over €700 million in aid to help Greece deal with over 50,000 migrants.

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said that Europe “stood by Greece” and that “the refugee crisis is not a Greek crisis. It is a European issue which requires a European solution.”

50,000 migrants are currently in Greece, with roughly the same number already having traveled through the country since the start of 2016 alone.

The funding comes under the new European Union Emergency Support Fund (ESF), which pools resources to tackle issues across member states.

This is the first time the ESF has been activated just over a month after it was proposed. European officials underscored the need for a quick response fund when crises unfold rapidly.

“In total, 300 million Euros will be allocated in 2016. And a further 200 million Euros each for use in 2017 and 2018” Stylianides said.

The first €83 million will be allotted immediately, going to the UNHCR (€25 million), International Federation of the Red Cross (€15 million), Oxfam (€6 million), and others, for a total of 8 charities in the next 12 months.

The funding aims to improve hygiene, healthcare, food security and housing for refugees.

Stylianides also mentioned that the EU was attempting to tackle the crisis in Syria, the source of many refugees.

“We are doing this via ongoing political discussions for a resolution to the Syrian conflict. And by financial support to Syria itself and its neighbouring countries – Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, which host more than 4.5 million refugees. We have provided over EUR 5.5 billion in the last five years.”