09:40 GMT +322 February 2018
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    A man walks after Turkish police forces blocked migrants and refugees on a highway near Edirn during their march to the border between Turkey and Greece

    EU Must 'Manage' Greek-Turkish Border With Its Own Emergency Force

    © AFP 2018/ BULENT KILIC
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1817)
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    The European Union should create a new agency that would strengthen the Greek-Turkish border and provide better care for refugees currently staying in Turkey, said Guy Verhofstadt, a Member of the European Parliament and a former Belgian Prime Minister, according to the Belgian weekly Le Vif.

    The EU should take immediate steps to tackle the ongoing refugee crisis, Verhofstadt said. Based on the EU treaty, member states can establish a European Refugee Rapid Emergency Force (ERREF) without changing existing rules which would avoid wasting precious time.

    Since Greece cannot effectively monitor its borders, the European Commission proposed to set up EU-sponsored units of coast and border guards to control the Greek-Turkish border. 

    The decision should be made as soon as possible — during an EU Council meeting on February 18, the Belgian politician argued.

    "Europe is in state of emergency and this requires emergency measures. Let's not wait another three months to get a grip on the border between Turkey and Greece; Europe has to manage it now with an emergency force of 2000 border guards," Verhofstadt said, according to the website Diplomatic Intelligence.

    Currently, over two million Syrian refugees are temporarily residing in Turkey. The EU is trying to prevent them from traveling to the bloc by giving Turkey some 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) to provide decent living conditions for the refugees in its territory.

    Verhofstadt said that this 3 billion euros should be used as direct financial support to help people living in refugee camps in Turkey, instead of being given to the Turkish government.

    The Belgian politician believes that if living conditions in refugee camps were improved, refugees would no longer attempt to take the dangerous route across the Aegean Sea to reach Greece.

    "The main reason why people leave these camps and attempt a dangerous crossing is the fact that they have to survive there with $7 per month. If we increase this amount, they can improve their living conditions in the camps," Verhofstadt said, as cited by Le Vif.

    According to the former Belgian prime minister, out of the 3 billion euros promised to Turkey, one billion euros should be given to the UN Refugee Agency and the other two billion should be spent to help refugees staying in camps in Turkey.

    The EU is currently struggling to manage a massive refugee crisis, with millions of people fleeing conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa to Europe.    

    Topic:
    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1817)

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    Tags:
    European Refugee Rapid Emergency Force (ERREF), refugee camps, refugees, money, European Union, Guy Verhofstadt, Turkey, Greece
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