Migrants in Greece to Be Handed Cash in Envelopes to ‘Maintain Their Dignity’ Under £550million EU Disaster Fund
John Stevens, Daily Mail, March 3, 2016
Migrants in Greece are set to be handed envelopes of cash under a £550million EU disaster fund announced yesterday.
Brussels officials said despite the obvious dangers of giving taxpayers’ money directly to those in refugee camps to spend as they wish it would help them ‘maintain their dignity’.
The EU aid plan–the first of its kind to provide humanitarian relief inside the continent–will be used to help charities provide essentials such as medicines, blankets and food.
But Christos Stylianides, the Commissioner in charge of humanitarian aid, said he believed migrants should also have the option of buying things themselves rather than being forced to queue up for aid drop-offs.
His suggestion comes despite internal European Commission documents warning about ‘corruption and security risks’ when providing humanitarian assistance in cash.
Tory MEP David Campbell-Bannerman last night said: ‘There is a danger that by handing over cash rather than basic essentials, British taxpayers’ money could end up in the hands of the human traffickers smuggling people through Europe. This is no way to ensure our security in Britain.’
People smugglers are currently offering for 1,000 euros to help migrants make the 375 mile trip from the Greek border with Macedonia to Belgrade in Serbia, where they can pay an extra 1,000 to 3,000 euros to get to Vienna.
Commission documents suggested the money could be distributed through cash in envelopes, mobile phone transfers or bank account deposits.’
An EU official admitted the failure of the Commission to handle the crisis meant it was having to set up the type of fund usually reserved for easing humanitarian crises in places such as Africa.
‘For the first time in its history the EU is struggling to deal with wide-ranging humanitarian needs within its borders,’ he said.
‘The Commission wants to learn the lessons from this crisis and prepare for the next one. We should not be caught off guard again whether we have a different or similar crisis that triggers humanitarian needs.’