Red Cross pledges more funds in Greece for migration crisis

2015-11-03 18:08
(Petros Giannakouris, AP)

(Petros Giannakouris, AP)

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Athens - The Red Cross said on Tuesday they are raising €12m to tackle the migration crisis in Greece, which saw more than 200 000 people arrive in October alone.

"We know what is needed, and we know how to respond. The question is only the scale," said Elhadj As Sy, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

"What we are facing now is much more than what was expected. That is why everybody is overwhelmed," he said during a visit to Athens.

"We can all do more, and we will do more."

Greece is the main entry point of a massive migration wave that has overwhelmed Europe, with over 700 000 people crossing the Mediterranean this year.

The UN refugee agency on Monday said more than 218 000 people made the risky sea crossing in October alone - all but 8 000 of them landing in Greece.

The IFRC is seeking about €11.6m in additional funding for its operations in Greece.

The goal is to raise the money by April. So far a third of the target has been met with donations from the Norwegian, Spanish and British Red Cross organisations.

Hellenic Red Cross head Antonios Avgerinos said about 60 000 migrants have already benefited from Red Cross help in Greece, including psychological support, first aid and survival packs.

He said the extra funds would benefit another 200 000 people.

"We are in every single country of origin, we are in every point of transit," Sy said.

"There are 7.5 million people internally displaced in Syria, one million in Jordan, 2.4 million in Turkey," the IFRC chief said.

Overall, the IFRC is trying to raise nearly 70 million Swiss francs for operations in Belarus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

Sy has said the IFRC had warned for years that the migrant crisis could spiral into chaos without a comprehensive response to meet humanitarian need in the countries of origin, along known migration routes and in the countries they arrive in.

On Tuesday he said countries had to "legally organise the refugee trail" to Europe.

Of the 218 000 migrants and refugees who crossed the Mediterranean in October, 210 000 landed in Greece, mostly on Lesbos.

Much of the assistance on the ground has been provided by volunteers, many of whom have highlighted the shortage of staff from major aid organisations on the ground.

"We really pay respect to the volunteers. Some of them did not even wait for us, to go out and help," Sy said.

"We listen to them, we hear their cry," he said.

Read more on:    red cross  |  greece  |  migrants

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