EU leaders agree to send $1.1 billion to agencies aiding refugees near wars

Refugees at the Macedonian border.
(Image credit: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images)

During an emergency European Union summit in Brussels, EU leaders agreed early Thursday to give $1.1 billion to international agencies working with refugees in camps near their home countries.

An estimated 500,000 migrants have arrived Europe this year, seeking asylum or jobs. Many left war-torn Syria for refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, and to reach Europe they have to make a treacherous journey across the Mediterranean to Greece. European Council President Donald Tusk said that in addition to sending aid money, the leaders also agreed to create "hotspots" by the end of November that will register and identify people eligible for refugee protection and weed out economic migrants who would most likely not qualify for asylum, The Associated Press reports. "The measures we have agreed today will not end the crisis," said Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland. "But they are all necessary steps in the right direction."

Before the meeting began Wednesday evening, Tusk asked that the divided leaders work together to overcome their differences. On Tuesday, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia voted against a plan to relocate 120,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece to other EU member states over the next two years, and Hungary is almost finished building a barbed wire fence along its border with Croatia. French President Francois Hollande said prior to Wednesday's meeting that "those who don't share our values, those who don't even want to respect those principles, need to start asking themselves questions about their place in the European Union."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.