Greece is to receive a new emergency support package from the European Commission to help it deal with the ongoing refugee crisis. Latest figures reveal that Greece is now hosting over 60,000 asylum seekers.
The magnitude of the crisis has prompted the EU to put together a 209-million-euro ($243 million) package that includes a 151-million-euro program aimed at helping refugee families rent accommodation in Greek cities and providing them with money in an effort to help them move out of temporary shelters.
This is the second aid package announced for Greece within a month, following the July 10 announcement that the islands of Lesbos and Chios would receive 6.48 million euros worth of aid to help improve reception conditions for stranded migrants. The two eastern Aegean islands have borne the brunt of the influx of refugees crossing into Europe from Turkey since the migrant crisis began in 2015.
The latest funding more than doubles the emergency support extended to Greece for the refugee crisis, bringing it to a total of 401 million euros. "These projects are one part of our wider support to the country, but also to those in need of our protection," EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters.
He added: "There is a total of around 1.3 billion euros worth of EU funds that are at the disposal of Greece for the management of the migration crisis."
Meanwhile, the flow of new arrivals especially in the eastern Aegean shows no sign of letting up. Greek port authorities said on Friday that at least 177 migrants and refugees had been rescued at sea during the last 24 hours following three search and rescue operations on two islands in the eastern Aegean close to Lesbos and Samos.
The largest concentration of people are hosted in the five Aegean islands which have migrant hosting facilities; Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, which are home to 15,222 asylum seekers.The majority are on Lesbos with 4,725 staying at the official state-run facility that has a total capacity for 3,500 and 188 at other centers.
Next is Chios which is hosting 3,503 people, although it can officially hold only 1,100. Things are even more difficult in Samos. The island's facilities are designed to host 850 people, but have to cope with 2,414, while Kos is also stretched to the limit with 1,830 people living in a camp designed for 1,000. Over 1,000 people are staying elsewhere.