European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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EU boosts humanitarian funding for refugee crisis in the Western Balkans

Humanitarian organisations respond to the most urgent needs of the refugees and asylum seekers transiting or stranded. ©European Union/ECHO/F. Martin

The EU today approved €7 million in humanitarian aid for Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, bringing the emergency assistance for refugees transiting through the countries to €8.74 million. The funding was announced as part of a €17 million package to help the two countries cope with the refugee influx.

"It is our collective responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people - wherever they are, wherever they come from and wherever they are going”, said Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. The Commissioner is today participating in a High-Level Conference in Luxembourg to discuss the migrant situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans.

The short-term emergency support will help humanitarian partners meet the basic needs of refugees and asylum seekers transiting or stranded. In view of the upcoming winter, the funding will help provide food, hygiene items, temporary shelter, emergency health and psycho-social support, and protection for the most vulnerable.

Several EU Member States have also sent material assistance such as sleeping bags, beds, blankets and mattresses via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism after its activation by Serbia. The Mechanism is managed by the European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre, which is working closely with the Serbian authorities and the other participating states to coordinate a swift emergency response.

Background

Since late spring 2015, over 200 000 migrants are estimated to have crossed the Western Balkans – the vast majority through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. The increased flow of migrants, mostly identifying themselves as refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria, have overstretched the capacities of these countries.

To deal with the consequences of the refugee crisis, the European Commission has committed to allocate a total of €200 million in humanitarian aid in 2015. The majority of this funding will be used to tackle the root causes of forced displacements inside Syria and Iraq and support neighbouring countries that are already hosting large numbers of refugees.