Norway to fund new migrant reception centre in Greece

The authorities in Greece and Norway have agreed to use funding from the EEA and Norway Grants to set up a new reception centre on the island of Lesvos, as part of Norway's contribution to alleviating the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

'A growing number of people are attempting to enter Europe from the Turkish mainland via the islands of Greece. It is crucial that all migrants are registered and that their rights are upheld. All the countries of Europe have a shared responsibility in this context,' said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Vidar Helgesen.

Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway will use around NOK 13.5 million (EUR 1.6 million) to fund the day-to-day running of the reception centre on the island of Lesvos for a one-year period. This will enhance the reception capacity of Greece for migrants. The centre is due to open later this year.

At the same time, Norway is extending its support for a similar reception centre in north-eastern Greece (Fylakio, near the Turkish border) for a further year, until 2017.

The funds will be allocated from the asylum programme Norway is already financing in Greece, which has a total budget of EUR 20.9 million.

This asylum programme already supports:

  • the running of four reception centres with a total of 272 places, earmarked for members of vulnerable groups, particularly unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors;
  • 200 places at the reception centre in Fylakio;
  • the development and running of the new asylum administration service in Greece;
  • the voluntary return of asylum seekers who are not granted a residence permit.

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration cooperates with the asylum authorities in Greece and others on the implementation and follow-up of the various projects.

In the revised national budget, the Government has proposed intensifying Norway's efforts in and around the Mediterranean. In addition to sending a vessel to Operation Triton, the EU's Mediterranean border patrol operation, the Government will also increase Norway's allocation to Frontex, the European agency for the management of the EU's external borders, and provide support for other measures aimed at alleviating the situation.