EU proposes 700 million euros in crisis aid for migration-hit states

The European Union should provide 700 million euros (760 million dollars) in emergency aid through 2018 for the member states worst affected by Europe's migration crisis, the bloc's executive proposed Wednesday.

The suggestion comes amid chaos at Greece's border with Macedonia, where thousands of migrants have become stranded after Austria and Balkan countries started restricting passage through their countries.

Greece is among the EU member states that have borne the brunt of the migration crisis, which saw more than 1 million migrants and asylum seekers reach European shores last year. There have been warnings that Greece is headed for a humanitarian crisis.

"No time can be lost in deploying all means possible to prevent humanitarian suffering within our own borders," EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said.

"The proposal of the European Commission is an important and necessary measure to come to the aid of Greece," Austrian Chancellery Minister Josef Ostermayer, added in a statement.

The proposal is not tailor-made for Greece, however. The funds - 300 million euros this year and 200 million euros in each 2017 and 2018 - will "provide help where it is most needed," Stylianides said.

The commission spoke of "several member states" needing immediate emergency support as they host "large amounts of refugees on their territories," without naming the countries.

The emergency assistance could for instance be used to provide basic necessities, such as food, shelter and medicine, the commission said.

Its proposal foresees the creation of a new instrument to distribute emergency aid within the EU during major crises. It would exist beyond 2018 and could also be used to distribute aid during other major humanitarian emergencies, such as a nuclear accident, a terrorist attack or an epidemic.

"With this proposal, we will be able to deliver emergency assistance for crises much faster than before, inside the EU," Stylianides said.

But the proposal will have to be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament to come into effect.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
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