BRUSSELS, 11th September, 2016 (WAM) — The European Commission has stepped up its funding to improve living conditions for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Greece, with 115 million euro in new funding for humanitarian organisations operating in the country. This brings total funding under the Emergency Support Instrument to 198 million euro.

“The European Commission continues to put solidarity into action to better manage the refugee crisis, in close cooperation with the Greek government. The new funding has the key aim of improving conditions for refugees in Greece, and make a difference before the upcoming winter. Over the past months, we have significantly contributed to restore dignified living conditions through our humanitarian partners. Together, we will continue our work until we reach our target”, said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, who announced the new funding at the Thessaloniki International Fair in Greece, together with the Greek Alternate Minister for Migration, Ioannis Mouzalas.

As agreed between Commissioner Stylianides and Minister Mouzalas, the assistance will focus on four priorities: A) Improvement of existing shelters and construction of new ones in the refugee camps prior to the upcoming winter. At the same time, aid will be used to improve sanitation conditions and to purchase other infrastructure, such as heating.

B) Delivery of direct assistance to refugees through cash/voucher schemes. This will help refugees to cover the basic needs of their families, such as food, in a dignified manner and, at the same time, support local economies.

C) Enable refugee children to access education.

D) Help unaccompanied minors, who are especially vulnerable and need special care and protection.

The new emergency support comes on top of the 83 million euro the European Commission provided earlier this year to international organisations and NGOs to address the most pressing humanitarian needs for refugees in Greece, including shelter, primary health care, psycho-social support, improved hygiene conditions, as well as informal education and safe spaces for children and women.

Overall, the European Union has provided over 1 billion euros in support to Greece in tackling current migration challenges.