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'European aid to Greece urgently needed'

The Council of the European Union has adopted a regulation on the provision of emergency support within the Union. This decision was taken by the ministers of the EU countries in Brussels at a meeting of the General Affairs Council chaired by Bert Koenders, Dutch foreign minister and President of the Council.

Minister Koenders

Image: Source: European Union

Refugees

The emergency support mechanism has been set up to help Greece and other member states address the humanitarian needs of the large numbers of men, women and children currently seeking asylum. The aid is aimed at alleviating their basic needs – for instance for water, food, medicine and shelter – and will be provided by the European Commission or partner organisations like UNHCR or NGOs.

All possible speed

‘This emergency support mechanism is a big step in the right direction’ said Mr Koenders. ‘It’s crucial that resources are made available quickly, so that the refugees’ plight can be alleviated with all possible speed. Last week, the Netherlands led the way by sending a plane carrying aid supplies like blankets, sleeping bags and camp beds to Greece.’ Ambulances have also been made available. At the moment there are around 35,000 refugees in Greece.

 

Refugees off the coast of Chios

Image: Eva Klijn

Financing emergency aid

The Commission estimates that a total of €700 million will be needed in 2016-2018 to address the needs of refugees, of which €300 million will be required in 2016. The European Council and the European Parliament still have to agree to the Commission’s proposal on the financing of such emergency aid. The aid need not be confined to the current refugee crisis. It can also be used for other emergencies or humanitarian crises, like terrorist attacks, epidemics and nuclear disasters.

 

Please watch the press conference with Minister Koenders (in 4 parts) >