With Greece still not explaining where more than 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion) in EU refugee assistance funds controlled by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos has gone, another 350 million euros ($398.42 million) is on the way
Greece is getting most of the 305 million euros of the additional 305 million euros ($374.2 million) in emergency assistance granted by the European Commission to deal with the more than three-year-long crisis that has seen the country overwhelmed with more than 70,000 refugees and migrants, including more than 15,000 on islands near Turkey.
“The Commission is committed to continue supporting member-states under migratory pressure. The additional 305 million awarded this week to several countries will address urgent needs by ensuring that new arrivals are accommodated adequately and have access to food and water, that the safety and security of the most vulnerable is guaranteed, and that border controls are strengthened where needed,” EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a statement.
That’s despite a lack of accounting for why the earlier EU funding has failed to improve conditions in detention centers and camps that human rights groups said aren’t fit for humans and with fears they will get worse with winter setting in.
Most of the refugees and migrants are seeking asylum after the EU closed its borders to them, largely dumping the problem on Greece during a more than 8 ½-year long economic and austerity crisis.
Turkey has taken back only a relative handful of refugees and migrants under a suspended swap deal with the EU and as Avramopoulos said he can’t make other countries live up to pledges to take in some of the overload and won’t take them to court because it’s such a delicate political issue.
The former head of the asylum program said it’s filled with corruption and called on prosecutors to examine how money is being spent, including the EU subsidies.
The money is supposed to improve conditions in the detention centers and camps but after the Greek newspaper Fileleftheros said Kammenos was directing contracts for the camps to business friends – the Defense Ministry, not the Migration Ministry, is charge of migrants because these people are dangerous, everybody knows, Kammenos called the police who jailed the Editor, Publisher and a journalist overnight.
“It’s time for prosecutors to intervene … What I say is that oversight has been lost; chaos reigns at the moment,” Andreas Iliopoulos, the asylum service chief told Kathimerini, charging corruption in the use of the EU funds.
Iliopoulos, who said he has no real power, also alleged widespread mismanagement of funds both by relevant Greek state agencies – including the defense ministry – and a line of NGOs financed with EU money and called on Greek and European judicial officials and regulatory authorities to commence an urgent investigation.
Migration Policy Minister, Dimitris Vitsas vehemently denied the allegations, and warned that “legal action” against Iliopoulos will follow and said the asylum chief either had to quit or be fired.