Labour MEPs back key EU humanitarian funds to manage refugee crisis

Labour MEPs chaired a joint debate today between the European Parliament’s civil liberties and development committees on EU humanitarian aid to support Greece.

MEPs put forward questions to the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, following the Commission’s proposals for an emergency assistance instrument to support EU countries facing humanitarian crises.

Tens of thousands of refugees, mostly from Syria and Iraq, live in camps on Greece’s northern border, with numbers growing daily, marooned by the closure of the border with Macedonia. More than half the refugees are women and children.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:

“Today’s debate with the humanitarian aid and crisis management Commissioner served as a great opportunity for Labour MEPs to lead calls to ensure the EU responds to the refugee crisis in an organised and compassionate manner.

“This afternoon’s meeting gave MEPs a chance to discuss in more detail the Commission’s €700 million proposal for an Emergency Assistance instrument to provide faster means of support to EU countries facing major humanitarian crises, such as dealing with large numbers of refugees. Crucial aspects include how this will be financed as well as the implementation of this new instrument.

“A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the EU as a result of the failure of EU governments to show solidarity and implement the necessary EU measures to address the refugee crisis.

“Labour MEPs welcome the Commission’s proposals for emergency humanitarian assistance – these funds will offer much needed assistance to support the work of NGOs in Greece, particularly in light of the increased humanitarian challenges as a result of the closure of borders.”

Linda McAvan MEP, chair of the European Parliament development committee, added:

“The European Parliament has been instrumental in pushing for the creation of this Emergency Assistance instrument which ends the contradiction of EU funds and expertise being unable to be used to address a humanitarian situation inside our own borders.

“Today’s debate will allow us to get more information from the Commissioner on how this instrument will work in practice, and where the money will come from.”