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EU proposes millions in emergency aid for migrants

The European Commission has proposed giving EU member states millions in aid to cope with many thousands of migrants. Greece will be among the major recipients of assistance amid the current migrant influx.

The European Union's executive body on Wednesday proposed setting aside 700 million euros ($760 million) to assist Greece and other states in providing shelter and care to refugees and migrants who are

arriving in Europe in great numbers.

EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said the funds would be allocated over three years, with 300 million euros in 2016 and 200 million euros in each of the following years.

Stylianides said the funds would be provided where they were "most needed," but didn't say how much would be earmarked for Greece, which is currently bearing the brunt of the migrant influx to Europe.

Numbers rising

Greece had asked for some 480 million euros to help it cope, with thousands of refugees trapped at the Greece-Macedonia border and hundreds of others landing daily on Aegean islands.

Grenze Griechenland Mazedonien Flüchtlinge

The Idomeni camp at the Greece-Macedonia border is overfilled

The government in Athens estimates that it will soon have to look after around 100,000 migrants, saying that some 8,200 officials will be required as police, firefighters, medical staff, field workers and translators.

The United Nations say that more than 131,000 migrants, many fleeing the civil war in Syria, have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe so far this year. That is more than the total number for the first five months of 2015.

More than a million migrants entered the EU over the whole of 2015.

Rifts in the bloc

The massive influx has led to major divisions within the EU, with several countries refusing to take part in a quota scheme for taking in migrants, and some even erecting fences on their borders to keep them out.

On Monday, refugees storming the fence at the border between Greece and Macedonia were

teargassed by Macedonian security forces

in an incident that has appalled human rights organizations.

Grenze Griechenland Mazedonien Flüchtlinge

Several people were injured in clashes on Monday

The plan to provide internal aid within the EU itself, if approved, would be the first distribution of humanitarian financial assistance to member states rather than foreign countries.

Stylianides said, however, that the funds would not be diverted from the EU's existing external humanitarian aid programs.

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

tj/kms (AFP, dpa)

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