The EU has awarded an extra €45.6 million to Greece and Spain to help improve conditions in refugee camps there. More than a billion has now been spent on emergency aid to help manage migration in Europe, making this the most costly humanitarian crisis in history.
The European Commission announced that it would allocate €25.6 to improve the reception capacity for arrivals at Spain’s southern coast and in Ceuta and Melilla, as well as to help increase returns.
The Commission said the UNHCR would also receive €20 million to improve conditions for migrants in Greece, in particular on the island of Lesbos.
The extra funds bring the total amount of money spent in emergency assistance to help states manage migration to more than €1 billion, the EU says. The support has gone to the European countries most affected -- Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Sweden and now also Spain.
€24.8 million will go to the Government and the Spanish Red Cross for a project providing healthcare, food, and shelter to migrants arriving on the southern coast and in Ceuta and Melilla.
A further €720,000 will help the Spanish interior ministry to improve the quality of return facilities and infrastructure for return transfers.
The emergency funding for Spain is additional to €692 million already allocated for migration, border and security management for the period 2014-2020.
The additional €20 million awarded to the UNHCR will be used to help manage the reception centers on Lesbos, support local community projects and provide further emergency accommodation on the islands.
It will also go towards improving child protection, education programs and to prevent sexual and gender-based violence.
This new funding comes on top of more than €1.6 billion awarded by the Commission since 2015 to help Greece deal with migration challenges.
Lesbos, Ceuta and Melilla
Moria camp on the island of Lesbos is well over capacity, holding more than 7,000 people. Medecins Sans Frontieres, which provides medical care to children and adults in the camp, says it is "both unsafe and unsanitary" and has called repeatedly for the camp to be closed and asylum seekers to be moved to the Greek mainland.
In Spain, the CETI (centers for temporary stay of immigrants) at Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa are also significantly overcrowded. The Melilla center has a maximum capacity of 480 people, but accommodates about 2,000 refugees. The Spanish government has confirmed that this includes around 300 children living in overcrowded conditions and exposed to general health risks.