EU, UNHCR Take Action to Increase Greece’s Asylum Reception Capacity

World » EU | December 14, 2015, Monday // 20:42
Bulgaria: EU, UNHCR Take Action to Increase Greece’s Asylum Reception Capacity European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva (C) speaks to the media after her visit at the temporary hosting migrants and refugees center at the Athens district of Elaionas, Greece, 14 December 2015. Photo EPA/BGNES

The European Commission and the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR have launched a scheme to provide 20,000 additional reception places for asylum seekers and relocation candidates in Greece, the Commission said on Monday.

The scheme will be funded through rent subsidies in the private sector and host family programmes with the Commission providing EUR 80 M from the 2016 EU budget.

The reception places to be created under the scheme are an important part of the EU emergency relocation programme, providing temporary accommodation in Greece for applicants who are awaiting relocation to other EU member states.

“This declaration helps to deliver on a commitment made by Greece and the UNHCR during the Western Balkans Leaders Meeting on 25 October 2015,” the Commission said in a statement.

European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, responsible for Budget and Human Resources, signed the declaration on behalf of the EU executive body, together with George Okoth-Obbo, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, and Ioannis Mouzalas, Greece's Alternate Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction.

Kristalina Georgieva commented: "Today we stand in solidarity with Greece and with children, women and men seeking refuge in Europe. The scheme we are launching offers EU budgetary support for families, notably providing them with adequate shelter. While today's agreement is about temporary assistance, the Commission continues to use the full range of tools at our disposal to find a long-term solution to the refugee crisis in Europe."

According to UNHCR data, in the first 11 months of 2015, over 1.565 million refugees and migrants have made their way to Europe, a trend which is set to continue. EU member Greece has received, until 10 December, more than 790,000 nationals of third countries arriving by sea. According to UNHCR, 92% of the inflow is originating from the top 10 refugee producing countries.

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Tags: EU, European Commission, UNHCR, refugees, asylum seekers, greece, George Okoth-Obbo, Kristalina Georgieva, Ioannis Mouzalas, relocation
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