Greece in refugee crisis: European Commission to launch emergency programme

EPP Group chairman Manfred Weber says EU must help Greece to control the crisis

As Greece is grappling with the influx of refugees, the European Commission is set to announce an emergency programme providing financial assistance to Greece to deal with the crisis.

Close to 30,000 migrants and refugees are trapped in Greece following the decision of Balkan countries to close Europe’s migrant corridor. The vast majority are Syrians and Iraqis fleeing conflict in the Middle East.

“We are experiencing the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war,” Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, told Greek Star TV. “The problem surpasses the powers of the country, the strength of a government and the innate weaknesses of the European Union.”

By Tuesday more than 8,500 migrants and refugees were said to be stuck at Idomeni at the frontier Greece shares with Macedonia, unable to continue their journey north. Greek armed forces were working around the clock to set up tent cities in fields at the border, The Guardian reported.

EPP group chairman Manfred Weber said that the refugee situation in Greece could deteriorate over the next few days.

“We must avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and the further destabilisation of an EU Member State. Therefore we are pushing for European Commission plans to provide financial assistance to Greece and to other countries facing similar problems. This is a matter of urgency. We must help Greece with all our means to control this crisis,” Tsipras said.

Weber added that Tsipras should not link the migration crisis to reforms in his country. “His strategy of skirting around the much-needed reforms failed last year and will fail again. Only when Greece implements the necessary reforms will the country be able to return to the path of economic recovery to the benefit of all Greeks. And furthermore, the country will regain its power to overcome the current difficulties.”

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