Norway steps up efforts to help refugees in Greece

The authorities in Greece and Norway have agreed that an additional NOK 31 million of the funds provided to Greece under the EEA and Norway Grants should be used to deal with the flow of refugees into Greece. This means that a total of NOK 231 million will be used for this purpose in the period up to 2017. The Norwegian Refugee Council will implement several of the projects.

‘The flow of refugees and migrants has put enormous pressure on the asylum system in Greece. We have therefore proposed to the Greek authorities that some of the funding under the Grants scheme should be reallocated to strengthen capacity in this area,’ said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Elisabeth Aspaker.

Some NOK 200 million (EUR 20.9 million) has previously been allocated for asylum and migration projects in Greece through the EEA and Norway Grants. An additional NOK 31 million (EUR 3.3 million) is now being reallocated from other programmes in Greece funded by Norway through the Grants scheme.

The extra funds are to help finance the following:

  • continued operation of four asylum reception centres with a 272-person capacity for one year
  • assistance to the local authorities on Chios with reception and registration of refugees, and provision of water, sanitary facilities and clothing
  • deployment of experts at reception centres along the border to Turkey, on the island of Lesvos, and at mobile reception centres and the main office in Athens to strengthen the processing of asylum cases.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) will implement the project on Chios and assist the Greek asylum administration, and the funding for the operation of reception centres will be administered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The projects will run until April 2017.

‘The NRC is already engaged in Greece and has considerable expertise in this area. I am confident that the planned projects will help to strengthen the Greek reception system, which is facing major challenges,’ said Ms Aspaker.

The Government has previously indicated its intention to use more funding under the EEA and Norway Grants to address the refugee situation in Europe.

‘Through the EEA and Norway Grants, we can help to establish proper systems to ensure that refugees seeking entry to Europe receive protection. This will be a priority in the negotiations later this year on how the Grants are to be used in the funding period from 2014 to 2021,’ said Ms Aspaker.