On September 10, the European Commission announced another 115 million of emergency support for Greece to improve the conditions for over 60,000 asylum seekers and refugees in Greece in often dire conditions. The money will be used to improve current shelters and build new ones before winter starts. In addition to this, the money will be used to enable refugee children to access education and to give direct assistance to refugees through cash- and voucher-schemes. Finally the money will also be used to help unaccompanied asylum seeking children who are in need of special care. This money brings the total funding under the Emergency Support Instrument to €198 million.
This initiative comes only a few days after the EU’s announcement of a new humanitarian program in Turkey named the Emergency Social Safety Net (EESN). The ESSN was agreed upon in the context of the EU-Turkey Statement and consists of 348 million euros which will be distributed amongst refugees in the form of electronic cash cards and can be used as people wish. The programme will be rolled out in October 2016 by the World Food Programme in partnership with governmental bodies and the Turkish Red Crescent. According to the European Commission, the ESSN “will reach the most vulnerable families among registered Syrian refugees in Turkey” , but also include a referral system to address the needs of other persons of concern too.
VOICE, a network of European NGOs active in humanitarian aid, and other NGOs have raised concerns as to the potential exclusion of other nationalities and of unregistered Syrian refugees and asylum seekers from the programme. Sara Tesorieri, a policy advisor at Oxfam’s Brussels office, regretted that the EU development budgets are now being “instrumentalised for migration control”.
For further information:
- European Commission, Factsheet EU emergency support within the EU, September 2016.
- European Commission, Q&A on Emergency Funding for Greece, 10 September 2016.
- European Commission, Q&A on ESSN, 8 September 2016.
- Wall Street Journal, EU to provide debit cards as part of refugee deal, 8 September 2016.
- Euronews, EU Commission to help refugees in Turkey via debit cards, 8 September 2016.