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Le Grip: 'Women #refugees run risk of being trafficked and sexually exploited'

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Portraits of Constance Le GRIP in Strasbourg Hemicycle

Life in a refugee camp can be hard, especially if you are a woman or a child. A delegation from the women's rights committee visited camps and centres for refugees around Athens on 3-4 November to assess their situation. Following the mission, the European Parliament spoke to the head of the delegation Constance Le Grip (pictured), a French member of the EPP group. She called on EU countries to live up to their commitment to take in more refugees, especially women and children.

How is life as a refugee harder for women than for men? What are the main challenges they face?

The insecurity and dangers threatening female refugees and migrants’ physical and psychological integrity are a lot more significant that those facing men. They run the risk of being sexually exploited and being taken by human trafficking networks. And this could also happen once they have arrived in the EU, including in camps.

There is not enough security and surveillance. They don’t always have the possibility to shut themselves away and there are no separate bathrooms. Staff members have told us about the high levels of domestic violence to which women are exposed.How are unaccompanied minors being looked after?

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Most of them live in general refugee camps. Certain camps try to group these minors together. Girls are especially vulnerable and experience psychological problems.

Many young people don’t like staying in the camps long. They don’t always understand why they have to be accompanied and supported and often slip away from the camps. As a result they are even more exposed to danger.

Greece urgently needs other EU countries to show their solidarity, in particular by taking in more minors. Because at the moment the conditions in Greece for looking after them are not very good.

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You visited a centre for women who were the victim of violence. What impressed you the most? We didn’t meet the victims themselves, but we had discussions with the management team. They told us that the women in the shelter had demonstrated an enormous willpower and energy and provided they were well supported and advised, would be able to tackle the challenges they are faced with. They are also driven by a lot of a hope and a willingness to cope and join the labour market.

Is it possible to evaluate the extent of the human trafficking problem?

We don’t have any statistics as it is very difficult to trace. The European directive regarding this is either not correctly transposed into national legislation or not correctly applied, or even not at all

How could the Parliament help to make a difference ?
The Parliament has already called attention to the situation on various occasions, for example by adopting a report proposing a series of concrete measures on International Women’s Day.

We need to constantly remind member states of their commitment regarding relocation where each country has to shoulder its part of the burden. We would also like to see a close look at how funds are spent on the ground.

European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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