Public Affairs Networking
12/08 – Situation desperate in Med; violence breaks out on Kos

While the European Commission has approved €2.4 billion in aid over six years for countries that have struggled to cope with the surge in immigrant numbers, the situation is getting desperate in the Mediterranean, several media such as the US’s Los Angeles Times, the UK’s Times and Spain’s TVE 1 highlight. Italy is to receive the most aid – nearly €560 million – and Greece, which – as the Los Angeles Times reports – is facing an exodus of Syrians and Afghans fleeing conflicts and whose coast guard rescued more than 1,400 refugees at sea in the last three days, will receive €473 million, the Daily Express reports.

Spain’s Cuatro speaks of a controversy surrounding the aid as, although sheltering the highest number of refugees, Greece is receiving lower funds than Italy or Spain. Violence actually broke out on the island of Kos, European media widely report, and all Greek media speak, in a tone of alarm, of “war scenes.” Fighting broke out between the Greek police and exasperated migrants waiting to get documents on the island of Kos, Greek Avghi and other media such as Italy’s Il Mattino and La Repubblica say.

Police officers have been accused of mistreating migrants, and Kos mayor Jorgos Kiritsis warned against the risk of a blood bath, while Greek PM Alexis Tsipras called for concrete help from the EU. As to the Regional Governor of South Aegean, he sent a letter yesterday to Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, asking him to give a direct share from the €470 million in EU funding secured for Greece two days ago to the Managing Authority of the South Aegean Region, highlights Avghi.

In the UK, the concentrates on statements made by EC spokeswoman Natasha Berthaud on British issues. “We are now able to disburse the funding for the French national programme and the UK has already received the first disbursement of its funding”, Ms Berthaud told a news conference. “Both of these programmes will, amongst other things, also deal with the situation in Calais,” she added.

British media are not the only ones to focus on domestic issues. In Germany for instance, media focus on the fact that many German municipalities are overburdened with the arrival of refugees, notably with people from the Balkan states who come to Germany for economic reasons, and who therefore do not fall under the right of asylum. In Hungary, Napi Gazdasag reports that, for Hungarian ruling party Fidesz spokesperson Tuzson Bence, Hungary does not receive enough financial support to handle migration. Latvia, Napi Gazdasag adds, is also planning to build a wall on its Russian border, and Hungarian spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ernő Simon, believes that every country has the right to protect its borders.

Moreover, a few Austrian and Croatian sources note that the EC has denied reports about the planned construction of large-scale camps for refugees in Serbia with EU assistance. While Brussels plans to help the Balkan countries manage the influx of migrants, there are no plans for the construction of large-scale camps by the EU, either in Serbia or elsewhere in the region.


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