Monday

25th Jan 2021

Six EU states slash food aid for Syria refugees

Every member state, except the Netherlands, has slashed contributions to the World Food Progamme (WFP) in 2015.

EU leaders at an emergency summit in Brussels on Wednesday (23 September) are being asked to shore up contributions.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The drastic cuts over the past year mean the UN agency has been unable to hand out food vouchers to hundreds of thousands of Syrians at refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey.

The lack of food and deplorable conditions at the camps is, in part, compelling many to take the journey to the EU.

At the camp in Jordan, some 229,000 Syrians stopped receiving food aid in September. In Turkey, around 60,000 women gave birth in the camps since the start of the conflict.

WFP has since had to halve assistance to almost 1.3 million Syrian refugees in the region. Most live off $0.50 a day. The agency is warning that disruptions to water supplies could provoke major outbreaks of disease.

“Faced with such harsh conditions who can blame people for seeking a safe haven in Europe”, said European parliament president Martin Schulz.

100% cuts in aid

Austria, Estonia, Greece, Portugal, and Slovakia made the most drastic cuts.

All sliced their contributions by 100 percent this year, compared to last year.

Sweden’s contribution dropped by 95 percent, followed by Lithuania at 69.5 percent, and Belgium at 54.7 percent. The UK also dropped by 29.5 percent. Others like Croatia, Latvia, Poland, and Romania gave nothing in the past two years.

The Netherlands stands alone as the only member state, at plus 5.8 percent, which has increased contributions.

It means member state contributions went from €895 million in 2014 to €675 million this year, a 38 percent drop.

But Sweden, for its part, contested the 95 percent drop in figures given by the European Commission. It says it usually makes the disbursements quite late in the year, which was not reflected in the commission's data.

"The Swedish contribution for 2015 at the moment stands at $69.3 million. This is without the increase just announced, which takes the total to about $72.3 million", said a contact at Sweden's ministry of international development cooperation.

The WFP said Sweden's contribution was registered last week.

"Sweden is still a much respected donor for WFP", said a WFP spokesperson.

Hungary says it has contributed $10,000.

€1 billion needed

Draft summit conclusions suggest at least €1 billion is needed for the WFP and other agencies like the UNHCR.

The commission said it will contribute an additional €200 million.

The Brussels-executive also announced a separate €1 billion trust fund for Syrian refugees. Five hundred million euro will come from the EU budget. Another €500 is being asked from member states.

But so far, only Germany (€5mn) and Italy (€3mn) have put any money in the hat for the trust fund. The EU has made a start up contribution of €38 million, but says another €100 million will be found before the end of year.

Additional pledges from member states for both WFP and Syrian trust are being made, an EU official said.

This article was updated on Friday (25 September) at 14:23 to note Sweden contested the figure provided by the European Commission. This article was updated on Tuesday (20 October) at 17:56 to note that Hungary has since contributed €10,000

Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge

The EU's hotspot of Moria, a sprawling ghetto-like camp for migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, burned down last September. EU leaders declared such scenes would never be replicated. But its replacement faces similar problems.

News in Brief

  1. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  2. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  3. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  4. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  5. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  6. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  7. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party
  8. German far-right party sues to avoid stigma

EU demands answers on Croat border attacks against migrants

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson wants to send her officials to Croatia sometime this month to make sure authorities there are complying with fundamental rights following numerous allegations of violence against migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross into the country.

EU watchdog launches probe on Croat border violence

The European Ombudsman is launching a case into the lack of proper oversight by the European Commission when it comes to how fundamental rights of migrants and refugees are allegedly being violated by Croat border police.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  2. Why Russia politics threaten European security
  3. MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'
  4. Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge
  5. Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity
  6. Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK
  7. Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?
  8. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us