EU says world facing worst refugee crisis since WWII

EU says world facing worst refugee crisis since WWII

Brussels (AFP) - The EU said Friday that Greece will receive further emergency funding to tackle a surge in migrant arrivals as the world faces the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

"Today the world finds itself facing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War," EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a press conference.

Avramopoulos, speaking after a trip to Athens on Thursday, said Europe as a whole was struggling with a surge in migrants, with the situation in Greece "particularly urgent" as almost 50,000 people arrived there last month.

"What we must do and the (European) Commission has done it, is to organise our system in order to face this problem in a decent, civilised and European way," he added.

The UN refugee agency said the number of people driven from their homes by conflict and crisis has topped 50 million for the first time since World War II, with Syrians hardest hit.

Avramopoulos said Greece will soon receive a first disbursement of 30 million euros from a total of 2.4 billion euros ($2.6 billion) of funding for EU member states to cope with the flood of migrants until 2020.

Officials said the money -- Greece will receive 474 million euros over the next six years -- will help build reception centres and integrate migrants.

The funds are also designed to help member states better monitor their borders and boost programmes to deport migrants who are refused entry.

Avramopoulos said the 30 million euros will be sent to Greece in the four to five days after a Greek management authority for the funds is formalised.

He said the Commission is fast-tracking a Greek request for 2.74 million euros in emergency funding to support UNHCR efforts to deal with newly arrived migrants on the Aegean islands.

He said that during his visit to Athens, he "asked Greece to put in a further request for emergency funding under the Asylum Fund, which they will do."

Some 124,000 refugees and migrants landed on the Greek islands during the first seven months of the year -- up 750 percent from 2014, according to UN figures.

The International Organization for Migration said Turkish efforts to stop traffickers from sending large "ghost ships" crammed with migrants towards Italy has sparked the surge in arrivals in Greece.

The Commission is committed to "redoubling our efforts to cooperate with Turkey on border management," Avramopoulos said.

"Very soon I will be visiting Turkey," he added.