Today European Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, visited Idomeni in Greece to show solidarity with refugees and the local population, and to assure them of the EU's full support.
"My visit here is to send a message, that the EU from the first moment is here, present, supporting the people that are living under dramatic conditions," said the Commissioner, "and to support the Greek authorities as they manage the complex situation."
The Commissioner assured refugees that the EU and its Member States are doing everything possible to improve living conditions on the ground. The EU has already provided Greece with €148 million of emergency assistance to help it cope with the influx of refugees. Greece will also be the first country to benefit from the EU's new Emergency Assistance instrument, which will provide €700 million of assistance over the next three years. Last week, the Council reached a political agreement on the new instrument.
In the light of this week's European Council (17-18 March) and the EU's ongoing discussions with Turkey, Commissioner Avramopoulos highlighted that safe and legal routes are open to refugees. He urged them to "listen to the European and national authorities in Greece; do not listen to the smugglers who are exploiting you."
The Commissioner underlined that the Commission has put in place the building blocks of a coordinated European response to the refugee crisis, including a system to relocate asylum-seekers across the EU, which will relieve the pressure on Greece. "I call on all Member States to provide more pledges, and to start implementing this plan," he said.