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03 March 2016

Migrants confront police at the Greek-Macedonian border. Photo: Marko Djurica / Reuters 2016.

EU Launches Emergency Refugee Aid Scheme for Greece

Belgium - The European Union, faced with a growing refugee crisis in Greece, launched a new aid program on Wednesday worth an initial EUR 700 million that mirrors the kind of disaster relief it offers developing nations, write Gabriela Baczynska and Francesco Guarascio for Reuters.

European states have tightened border controls following the arrival of more than a million migrants by sea last year and the Athens government has appealed for help to house and care for tens of thousands still arriving and now stranded in Greece.

"We are ... really worried," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said of the build-up of migrants on the now-closed Macedonian border, adding that the new plan had been prompted by fears of "a huge humanitarian crisis in Greece".

The Commission's proposal, if approved, will channel EUR 300 million (US$325 million) this year from its EUR 155 billion annual budget to the new emergency assistance scheme and EUR 200 million both next year and in 2018. 

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An Afghan girl stands on a table in a Halmstad resort where she has been living for the past four months. Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images

Refugee Children Face Harsh Winter in Sweden – in Pictures

Sweden received 162,877 asylum applications in 2015 and is struggling to house refugees in proper conditions. Many are now living in Halmstad, a summer seaside resort on the west coast. David Ramos of Getty Images recorded aspects of their new lives in Europe for The Guardian.

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Migration in the News

  • Die Welt reported comments by IOM DG William Lacy Swing expressing his admiration for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “visionary and courageous decision” to open Germany's doors to refugees and migrants.
  • Euronews, n24 and Märkische Online Zeitung quoted IOM estimates of migrant and refugee arrivals and deaths in the Mediterranean.
  • Time and Al Jazeera reported IOM data showing that almost 2,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by sea every day in the first two months of 2016.
  • Sputnik reported that the current migrant crisis is exacerbating tensions within the European Union, above all between Greece and Germany.
  • BBC reported that according to NATO commander US General Philip Breedlove, Russia and Syria are "weaponizing" migration to destabilize and undermine Europe.
  • New Europe reported that thirty times more refugees and migrants arrived in Greece during the period January and February 2016, compared with the same period in 2015.
  • The Norway Post reported that Greece and Norway have agreed that NOK 231 million provided to Greece under the EEA and Norway Grants will go towards funding the refugee influx through 2017.
  • Xinhua reported that according to MSF, arbitrary border restrictions in the Western Balkans increase the risk of refugee abuse and make it difficult for humanitarian agencies to assess people’s needs.
  • Digital Congo reported that some 200 displaced households living in Mugunga I and Bulengo camps have returned to their home villages in the Kamuronza group in Masisi, North Kivu.
  • Thomson Reuters Foundation reported that Syrian refugees in Mauritania see the country as a gateway to Europe, rather than a new home.
  • Iran’s MEHR News Agency reported the launch of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Migration Report in Bangkok.

Trending on the Internet

  • The Bangkok Post reported that the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) has launched a Southeast Asia mission to comb the seas for boat people, including Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

  • Middle East Online reported that Pope Francis used an address in St Peter's Square to hail the “generous help” offered to migrants and refugees by Greece, saying the situation “requires cooperation among all nations.”

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