EU approves 2.4 billion euros for migrant crisis

AFP , Monday 10 Aug 2015

Flags of the European Union (Photo: Reuters)

The EU announced Monday that it has approved 2.4 billion euros ($2.6 billion) of funding to help member states over the next few years cope with the flood of migrants entering the bloc.

Officials said the money will help frontline states like Italy and debt-hit Greece -- which complained last week it cannot cope -- build reception centres and integrate migrants.

The funds are also designed to help member states better monitor their borders and boost programmes to deport migrants who are refused entry.

"We are now able to disburse funding," Natasha Bertaud, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, told a press conference.

"It will provide crucial support to frontline member states," she added as the commission said it had worked with member states to ensure the funds are "released urgently".

The commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation EU, said Italy will receive 558 million euros and Greece 478 million euros in funds allocated from 2014 to 2020.

Spain will receive 521.8 million euros, Sweden 154 million euros, Hungary 61.4 million euros, Bulgaria 72.7 million euros, Cyprus 74 million euros, Austria 26.5 million euros, Estonia 35.2 million euros, Finland 52.9 million euros and Ireland 9.2 million euros.

Lithuania was allocated 17.2 million euros, Luxembourg 7.5 million euros, Malta 74.6 million euros, Poland 69.3 million euros, Portugal 38.6 million euros, Romania 98.4 million euros, Slovakia 13 million euros and Slovenia 41 million euros.

EU officials told AFP that Greece will "soon" receive a first instalment of 33 million euros after it set up an authority to manage the funds.

The United Nations warned Friday that migrants landing in Greece were facing "shameful" conditions as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras claimed Athens was unable to cope with the massive influx on its Aegean islands.

Some 124,000 people, almost all of them fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, have come ashore since the beginning of the year -- a 750-percent increase from the same period last year, the UN refugee agency said.

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