NEWS

EU migration aid approved but out of reach

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The European Commission on Monday approved the release of 474 million euros for Greece to boost its efforts to deal with undocumented immigration and asylum applications, part of a package totaling 2.4 billion euros to European Union nations, but the funds cannot be disbursed as Greek authorities have yet to set up a service for the management of EU subsidies for immigration.

Setting up the service is a prerequisite for Greece to continue receiving funding and legislation was passed through Parliament last month foreseeing its creation. In comments to Kathimerini last week, however, Alternate Minister for Immigration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou noted that setting up the immigration service was no speedy matter.

As the influx of immigrants into Greece peaks, with hundreds reaching the Aegean islands daily, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras noted last week that authorities are doing all they can to address a “crisis within a crisis.”

Accommodating the migrants who travel on to Athens is another big challenge. A plan by authorities to move hundreds of refugees from a makeshift camp in Pedion tou Areos park in the city center to a site in Elaionas, western Athens, was delayed as the air-conditioning units to be installed in the prefabricated units on the Elaionas site were deemed faulty.

The plot has been cleared and the units hooked up to electricity and water supplies, but without air conditioning, the metal huts would not be habitable.