izbjeglički kamp.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Bernard ĆAVAR / mm

The European Commission on Thursday called on the countries along the Western Balkans migrant route to build facilities for the provisional accommodation of 50,000 people as soon as possible to avert a tragedy.

Now it's time to implement as soon as possible the 17-point plan agreed at Sunday's summit, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said. We have no time to lose, not a day, not an hour, if we want to avert a human tragedy in the Western Balkans and the Commission believes there is no time for stalling, for bureaucracy, now it's time for action, he added.

He said the first video conference of contacts points of the 11 countries which took part in the summit would take place today to discuss what had been achieved in the implementation of the plan and the measures that need to be taken.

Another Commission spokesperson, Natasha Bertaud, said the video conference would be an opportunity for the countries involved to state specific numbers concerning the construction of accommodation facilities.

In a joint statement, the leaders of those 11 countries say the capacity will be increased by 50,000 people in Greece and by another 50,000 in the Western Balkans.

Bertaud said the leaders mentioned the accommodation capacities of their countries but that the figures were not included in the joint statement so that they could establish within their countries how many people they could provisionally accommodate.

Bertaud said reception centres in Greece would be different from those in the Western Balkans. In Greece, people will be accommodated while waiting for their asylum request to be processed or for relocation to another EU country if the request was granted, or for being returned home if they were not granted asylum. In the Western Balkans, the reception centres will provide people with provisional accommodation so that they do not sleep in the rain and the cold while waiting to be transported.

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