Oslo, Feb 26: Norway said that it has stepped up its efforts to help refugees in Greece by allocating more funds to strengthen Athens' capacity to deal with the flow of refugees.
The authorities in Greece and Norway have agreed that a total of 231 million Norwegian kroner ($26.8 million) will be provided to Greece under the EEA and Norway Grants to deal with the flow of refugees in the period up to 2017, the Norwegian government said in a statement on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.
Some 200 million kroner ($23.2 million) has previously been allocated for asylum and migration projects in Greece through the EEA and Norway Grants. An additional 31 million kroner ($3.6 million) is now being reallocated from other programmes in Greece funded by Norway through the Grants scheme.
"The flow of refugees and migrants has put enormous pressure on the asylum system in Greece. We have therefore proposed to the Greek authorities that some of the funding under the Grants scheme should be reallocated to strengthen capacity in this area," Norway' s Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Elisabeth Aspaker said.
The extra funds are to help finance the continued operation of four asylum reception centres with a 272-person capacity for one year and assistance to the local authorities on Chios with reception and registration of refugees.
They will also be used to finance the deployment of experts at reception centres along the border to Turkey, on the island of Lesvos and at mobile reception centres and the main office in Athens to strengthen the processing of asylum cases.
"Through the EEA and Norway Grants, we can help to establish proper systems to ensure that refugees seeking entry to Europe receive protection," Aspaker said.
"This will be a priority in the negotiations later this year on how the Grants are to be used in the funding period from 2014 to 2021," Aspaker added.