Since 2015, the Greek Government has received around EUR 2.77 billion in EU funding to help address migration issues, that is to say EUR 1.7 billion from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), EUR 426.1 million from the Internal Security Fund (ISF) and EUR 643.6 million EUR from the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI). Despite this, asylum seekers at reception and registration centres (‘hotspots’) on the Aegean islands, such as Moria, are living in parlous and inhumane conditions.
On 07 October 2020, Austrian Member of the European Parliament Othmar Karas of the Group of the European People’s Party sent a priority parliamentary question to the European Commission. In his question MEP Karas enquired “what specific measures has the Greek Government taken with the above EU funding?” and “how much EU funding has been earmarked for Greek hotspot facilities at Moria and elsewhere, and why are asylum seekers being forced to live in such disgracefully substandard accommodation?
Finally, MEP Karas asked the Commission “does it consider that the parlous conditions at Greek hotspots are attributable to inadequate funding or mismanagement and what additional measures would be needed to remedy matters?”
On 18 November, Commissioner Ylva Johansson, responsible for the Home Affairs, responded to this question on behalf of the European Commission. She reported that “EU funding provided to the Greek authorities by the Commission contributes to improving reception capacities and living conditions by creating accommodation places on the mainland and on the islands, financing transfers from the islands to the mainland, accelerating the asylum procedures and increasing returns, reinforcing medical care for migrants and creating safe zones for unaccompanied minors in Reception and Identification Centres, and to protecting sea and land borders through the upgrading of the infrastructure”.
Commissioner Johansson stated that “the services in the hotspots along with medical and asylum services are funded under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund Greek National Programme. Emergency Assistance, also under this Fund, is supporting the construction and operation of Safe Zones for unaccompanied minors”. She also added an example that “the Commission has awarded EUR 130 million as Emergency Assistance for the construction of three new reception centres on the islands of Samos, Kos and Leros and will also provide funding for the construction of similar facilities in Lesvos and Chios (amount indicatively foreseen EUR 90 million pending specific funding request from Greek authorities)”.
Commissioner Johansson highlighted that “following the fires on Lesvos early September 2020, the Commission has established a Task Force to complement the efforts of the Greek authorities to ensure adequate reception conditions of migrants in the existing reception centres and to improve the efficiency of migration management in Greece”.
In closing, Commissioner Johansson asserted that “the Commission will continue supporting the Greek authorities’ efforts to decongest the islands, prepare the sites for the winter and provide adequate hygiene conditions”.
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