Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre commented, “Migration is a major challenge for Europe, and not least for Greece. Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway is helping to strengthen cooperation in Europe on dealing with migrants and asylum seekers in the region. Priority will be given to the reception facilities for unaccompanied minors who are seeking asylum.”
The MoU on this funding was signed in Athens today. The measures will be implemented in cooperation between various Greek partners and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration will help the Greek authorities to enhance the quality and capacity of reception centres. This work will include improving health services for recent arrivals, and there will be opportunities for supporting NGOs that run reception centres and provide medical assistance to migrants.
Funding for developing capacity in the Greek immigration authorities will be channelled through the UN.
The International Organisation for Migration will receive funding for assisting asylum seekers who wish to return to their country.
Norwegian Minister of Justice and the Police Knut Storberget commented, “It is right and important for Norway to assist the Greek authorities in enhancing the administration of applications for asylum and improving reception centres for asylum seekers. This will also help the European immigration system to function optimally.”
In addition to the cooperation in the asylum field, funds have also been allocated to projects on the environment, renewable energy and research. A separate fund for NGOs will also be established.
The funding provided via the EEA and Norway Grants is Norway’s contribution to reducing social and economic disparities in Europe. The Grants are also intended to strengthen cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary state. Around NOK 500 million has been allocated for projects in Greece in the period up to 2014. Norway provides 97% of the EEA and Norway Grants. The rest is provided by Iceland and Liechtenstein.