UNHCR and partners revise funding needs for Greece & Balkans

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 10 Jun 2016 View Original

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 10 June 2016, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

By: William Spindler | 10 June 2016

Today we are launching an update of the regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) involving 60 partner organizations and covering the eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans route. The RMRP has been revised to take into account the new circumstances on the ground following border closures along the Western Balkans route, and the entry into force of the EU-Turkey agreement.

These developments have had a significant impact on the numbers of refugees and migrants arriving, with a decrease in the number of people along the Western Balkans route and an increase in the number of people remaining in Greece. While the measures adopted have significantly reduced the number of arrivals in Greece, over 57,000 refugees and migrants are currently dispersed across the country in several sites on the mainland and the islands.

In this context, UNHCR and humanitarian partners have redefined their engagement from a response primarily targeting people on the move, to focusing on a static population in Greece and on protection activities in countries in the Western Balkans.

The financial requirements to implement the plan have been adjusted to reflect the change in circumstances. They currently stand at almost 670 million US dollars for 2016, of which contributions of 328.8 million US dollars have been received.

Unmet needs remain significant, as living conditions in the sites in Greece, both on the islands and the mainland, have deteriorated as a result of congestion and the rapid nature in which sites were established on the mainland. The affected population includes many people with specific needs, such as unaccompanied or separated children, single women, pregnant or lactating women, the elderly, people with disabilities, as well as the sick and injured. The number of children in these movements has been on the rise, reaching 38 per cent of the total arrivals from Turkey to Greece in 2016. There is a risk that these people will increasingly rely on smuggling and trafficking networks, exposing themselves to greater protection risks, which will be even more challenging to address considering the clandestine nature of the movement.

The regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP), was launched in January 2016 following the large-scale population movements registered throughout Europe in 2015, when 1 million refugees and migrants undertook the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. The vast majority crossed the Aegean Sea by boat from Turkey to Greece. Many lost their lives: in total, 3,771 people died or were reported missing in the Mediterranean Sea in 2015. Despite worsening weather conditions brought on by the onset of winter, the movements did not subside during the first five months of 2016, with some 200,000 arrivals by sea from January to May 2016, including over 150,000 to Greece.

For more information on this topic, please contact:
William Spindler in Geneva on +41 79 217 3011, spindler@unhcr.org