European Union pledges 1 billion euros to help refugees

European Union leaders pledge 1 billion euros of aid for refugees through humanitarian agencies, increase assistance to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk (R) address a joint news conference after a European Union leaders extraordinary summit on the migrant crisis in Brussels, Belgium September 24, 2015

Updated Sep 25, 2015

European Union leaders on Thursday agreed to give 1 billion euros to humanitarian agencies to help refugees in camps near their home countries.

The decision was announced by European Council President Donald Tusk at the end of a seven hour emergency summit which started late on Wednesday in Brussels as the number of refugees coming into Europe continued to increase every day.

A statement at the end of the summit called EU member states to “respond to the urgent needs of refugees in the region by helping the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme and other agencies with at least an additional 1 billion euro.”

The leaders have also agreed to “assist Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis, including a substantial increase of the EU's Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis.”

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 450,000 refugees arrived in Europe so far this year and almost 3,000 died on the way in attempt, fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. Authorities expect the number of refugees to reach about 1 million by the end of 2015.

“The measures we have agreed today will not end the crisis. But they are all necessary steps in the right direction,” Tusk said addressing the press at the end of the meeting.

The decision came after EU interior ministers approved a plan on Tuesday, to relocate 120,000 refugees among members of the bloc, despite strong opposition from four eastern european states - Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and romania.

The leaders also discussed ways to limit the influx of refugees and ways to better handle them.

The new measures include strengthening the controls at the external borders of the EU including increased funding and equipment for border control agencies.

Many European countries have already increased their border controls to deal with the high number of incoming refugees.

The EU will also help countries on the main refugee routes to setup hotspots “to  ensure identification, registration and fingerprinting” of incoming refugees.

The leaders will meet for another summit in October following a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan where the ways to strengthen cooperation and dialogue between the two parties will be discussed.

In the statement, the European leaders have also urged the United Nations and international community to help find a solution to end the civil war in Syria, that has led to displacement of 12 million people since it started in 2011.

About half of the refugees arrived in Europe this year are from the war torn country, where almost 250,000 people have died in the four years of the ongoing civil war.

TRTWorld and agencies