The Netherlands ramps up migration aid to Greece
The Netherlands will intensify its support to Greece in improving the approach to migration, partly within the scope of the agreements in the EU-Turkey Statement. There is a need to do so because of the pressure on the external borders of the European Union and on the Greek asylum system. Minister for Migration Ankie Broekers-Knol announced these plans to the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Two lorries containing 71 generators, 4,300 pillows, 6 tents and 1,900 emergency blankets were recently delivered to Greece. These relief supplies are in addition to the 30,000 blankets that the Netherlands provided to the Greek isles last autumn.
The Netherlands will also supply additional specialists. Dozens of employees at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee as well as the Repatriation and Departure Service have been active in Greece since the 2015–2016 migration crisis. Four additional specialists will set to work on border controls between Greece and Turkey at the request of Frontex.
Two Dutch 'island coordinators' will also be appointed, who will be dispatched to the Greek isles via the EU from 1 May. They will coordinate all local parties and ensure that bottlenecks in procedures as well as reception are discussed and solved. In addition, they will serve as liaison with the European Commission and the Member States. Projects that provide refugees with psychological support will receive a contribution of 200,000 euros in development cooperation.
The Netherlands was in the front rank to take its responsibility for relocation during the 2015–2016 migration crisis, when around 1,750 asylum seekers were transferred from Greece to the Netherlands. Only Germany and France accepted more asylum seekers. Since then, the Netherlands has focused on a long-term solution to the Greek problems. Such a solution is not advanced by transferring migrants, particularly unaccompanied minor refugees, to the Netherlands.
Long-term improvements required
Where possible, the Netherlands will assist Greece. However, the Netherlands and the EU are also urging Athens to arrive at long-term improvements. The living conditions in the refugee camps are insufficient, the asylum procedures take too long and repatriation should be higher on the agenda. Since March 2016, the EU has set aside 2.4 billion euros to support these efforts.