|Posted by moodhacker on December 23, 2016 at 12:20 AM|
The Greek government, the UN refugee agency and the EU’s aid department have been accused by other aid groups of mismanaging a multimillion-pound fund leaving thousands sleeping in freezing conditions in Greece.
The Greek governmenet is the one with the ultimate jurisdiction over camp activities, stresses Guardian, and has been criticised for failing to use nearly €90m (£75m) of separate EU funding to adequately improve conditions at the camps before the onset of winter.
The ongoing blame game highlights the level of disorganisation across the entire response to the Greek refugee crisis.
No single actor has overall control of all funding and management decisions in the camps.
Throughout months of research in several sites across Greece, the Guardian has found that the EU, UNHCR, major NGOs, the Greek government and the Greek army all use the the absence of a clear chain of command to absolve themselves of responsibility for the dysfunctional system.
The EU aid department, known as Echo, has given UNHCR more than €14m since April to help prepare roughly 50 refugee camps for the winter in Greece, where an estimated 50,000 mainly Syrian refugees have been stranded since the adoption of new European migration policies in March. A further €24m has been given to UNHCR for other projects.
Both organisations stand accused by other aid groups of squandering this money, after failing to properly “winterise” or evacuate dozens of camps before snow fell in Greece earlier in December.
In addition to providing warmer bedding and clothes, UNHCR was expected to use this money to move people from tents to heated containers or formal housing; heat warehouses where other refugees are living; provide a consistent supply of hot water; and install insulated flooring for anyone still left in tents.
Months after the funds were dispersed, roughly half of those living in camps had yet to be transferred to formal housing by the onset of winter. Of the 45 camps that were still active at the start of the month, the Guardian visited or was made aware of at least 15 camps that had yet to be properly adapted by the time snow fell in northern Greece at the start of December. UNHCR admitted it was itself aware of only eight camps where all the residents have been moved out of tents and into prefabricated containers.
Refugees and independent aid workers say Echo and UNHCR had initially ignored the gravity of the situation. The head of Medécins Sans Frontières in Greece, Loic Jaeger, described the situation as a failure.
Jaeger said: “Our feeling is that there is a willingness now, led by the fact that there is a massive amount of money [allocated for winterisation], to try to present the situation as if it is OK. But it is not.
On the islands we are still not even starting to winterise. In some places it’s working quite well, but in northern Greece you still have people sleeping in tents in the snow.”
Jaeger added: “What is being done with all this money? Who is checking? Where is the report from the EU or UNHCR assessing what is still to be done? Where is the transparency? There is a discrepancy between what is claimed and what is the reality.”
The Guardian has found that additionally Echo dispersed nearly €190m to a group of major UN agencies and charities working in Greek refugee camps – without ensuring that the the aid would be spread equally across the camps. Only a few camps have designated funding for the full range of services offered by the charities.
Guardian analysis of data provided by the EU shows that
- 19 camps receive no designated EU funding for water-related infrastructure such as toilets and showers;
- another 19 have no designated funding for healthcare
- 10 receive no designated funding for psycho-social care;
- 26 receive no designated funding for child protection or child-friendly spaces;
- 25 receive no funding for female friendly spaces.
Asked to comment on this analysis, the EU did not dispute the figures.
Both UNHCR and the EU released a breakdown of their spending on winterisation and other areas. More than 21,000 people have been placed in formal housing, the data shows – but an estimated 20,000 remained in camps in early December.
Officials from both institutions partly blamed the cash-strapped Greek government for the failure to properly accommodate the refugees, who were left stranded on Greek territory by other EU countries in March.
Content by the Guardian article " Thousands of refugees left in cold, as UN and EU accused of mismanagement"