Tuesday

26th May 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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

Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants

Alarm Phone, a hotline service for migrants in distress, has released video footing showing an Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) boat making dangerous manoeuvres next to people swimming for their lives at sea. Malta does not deny the footage.

New EU migration pact set for start of summer

The new EU pact on migration is set for publication sometime in June. Final tweaks are still underway as commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson says she remains cautiously optimistic on finding a solution to the most pressing issues.

Opinion

Europe's migration system is broken: Renew has a plan

The failure of successful integration of migrants and refugees granted stay in Europe puts the entire asylum and migration policy at risk. Member states have to step up their integration policies.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Latest News

  1. Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK
  2. EU and UK stumbling into Irish border crisis
  3. Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants
  4. How coronavirus might hit EU defence spending
  5. Herman Van Rompuy on power and influence in the EU
  6. EU links access to recovery fund to economic advice
  7. EU wants to halve use of pesticides by 2030
  8. Top editors alarmed by media cuts in EU and beyond

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us