Photo Maikel Samuels / Hollandse Hoogte

The instability on the EU’s borders impacts on the situation in individual member states. There needs to be better reception of refugees. Member states need to divide the burden more fairly and look for ways to better manage the flow of migrants. Over the past year no other EU member state has faced the same mass influx of migrants and refugees that Greece has seen. All member states must help deal with this situation. On 15 March 2016 the Council of the European Union adopted a regulation on an emergency support mechanism for humanitarian aid on EU territory.

Images of refugees arriving in rubber boats on beaches along the Mediterranean coast have dominated the news over the past year. These families are arriving on Lesbos, where Red Cross aid workers are ready to help them. (Photo: UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis)

Water, food and shelter

The emergency support mechanism was set up to help Greece and other member states address the humanitarian needs of large numbers of men, women and children. In mid-March there were around 35,000 refugees in Greece. The aid is aimed at meeting 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.

‘Right now there is enormous human suffering,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘This emergency support mechanism is a big step in the right direction. It’s crucial that resources are made available quickly, so that the refugees’ situation can be improved as soon as possible. In early March, the Netherlands led the way by sending a plane carrying blankets, sleeping bags and camp beds to Greece. Ambulances have also been made available.’

Financing for emergency aid

In 2016 €300 million will be required. By 2018 the total amount will reach €700 million. 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 accidents.

Refugees reach the Greek islands or mainland after a journey over land and sea. (Photo: Jaco Klamer/Hollandse Hoogte)
Partner organisations like UNHCR provide shelter, water, food and medicines. (Photo: UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis)