EU increases funding to agencies helping refugees

EU increases funding to agencies helping refugees
European Union leaders agreed Thursday to give an extra 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to UN refugee agency and World Food Programme to stem tide of refugees coming to Europe.
4 min read
24 September, 2015
Europe is dealing with its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War [Anadolu]

EU leaders agreed at an emergency refugee summit Thursday to boost aid for Syria's neighbours, including one billion dollars through UN agencies, as well as strengthening their borders to deal with a wave of migrants.

Tensions have erupted between European nations as they face their worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, but the bloc's president Donald Tusk said the leaders had turned a corner during surprisingly calm talks in Brussels.

"Tonight we have a common understanding that we cannot continue like we did before," Tusk told a press conference. "It's a quite symbolic moment - I am absolutely sure that we have stopped with this risky blaming game." 

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Aid for refugees 

The EU leaders agreed to mobilise an additional one billion euros for the UN refugee agency and the World Food Programme to help refugees in the region around Syria, former Polish Prime Minister Tusk said. 

Brussels would also increase help to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as to Balkan countries on the main migrant route to the EU which have been stretched by the huge numbers of people coming through, he said.

French President Francois Hollande said his country would give 100 million euros over two years, while British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged 100 million pounds (137 million euros, $153 million).

But Tusk said EU leaders had also agreed to strengthen the bloc's outer frontiers, adding that there had been a "change in the way of thinking about our external borders".

There have been growing fears that the EU's cherished Schengen passport-free zone could buckle as states reintroduce border checks to stem a flow of migrants inside the bloc, many of whom are heading for Germany.

Tusk said they also agreed to set up controversial "hotspot" reception centres in frontline states - probably in Greece and Italy - to more quickly sort genuine conflict refugees from economic migrants.

Highlights of EU refugee summit

The EU reached an agreement on how to deal with Europe’s refugee crisis on Thursday. Here are the measures that EU states will take to solve Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. 

Emergency aid

EU countries agreed to a $1.1 billion to help aid agencies working with refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries. It is hoped better conditions in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan’s Syrian refugee camps will curb the number of refugees seeking refuge in Europe. 

Tougher border control

EU President Donald Husk said on Wednesday that the most urgent question is "how to retain control of our external borders". Leaders agreed to beef up border controls by providing more support to the EU border agency.

Greater cooperation

The EU summit called for a "renewed UN-led international effort" to end the war in Syria, which it said has driven an estimated 12 million people from their homes. "The EU commits to doing its part in this respect," the leaders said. Merkel said Assad must have a role in peace talks.


On Tuesday, EU nations clashed on a plan to relocate 120,000 migrants, with four EU countries - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania - in opposition. Despite that, the official summit communique stressed that all EU member states share the commitment to dealing with the migration crisis together.

More to be done

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that a deal to relocate 120,000 refugees among EU countries was far from what was needed to resolve the refugee crisis.

"I am deeply convinced that what Europe needs is not just selective relocation of this kind, but much more a durable process for fairly distributing refugees among member states," Merkel told parliament, adding: "A first step has been taken, but we are still far from where we should be."

Merkel's remarks came two days after EU interior ministers forced through a deal to relocate 120,000 refugees in the face of strong opposition from eastern states Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.

In what appeared to be criticism targeted against Hungary, Merkel recalled "minimum standards in Europe for the accommodation and care of refugees, and in the asylum-seeking process" and noted that such standards "are not always met at EU borders".

Hungary has alarmed both human rights activists and the United Nations alike with its army's use of rubber bullets, tear gas and net guns to repel migrants seeking to enter its territory.

Besides sealing off its southern border with Serbia last week, Budapest has also passed a raft of anti-migrant measures, including a law that allows it to jail anyone caught crossing the border illegally.

Meanwhile the European Commission warned Wednesday that 19 EU member states, including France and Germany, faced possible sanctions for failing to implement rules on handling asylum seekers coming to Europe.