BRUSSELS — EU leaders agreed early today to mobilise at least one billion euros (US$1.1 billion) for refugees in countries neighbouring Syria through UN agencies, the bloc's president Donald Tusk said.
The EU will also set up by the end of November special registration centres in frontline states like Greece and Italy to separate refugees fleeing war from economic migrants, Tusk told a press conference after an emergency summit.
"'Hotspots' will be set up by the end of November," Tusk said. "This is an achievement because only a few days ago it had been very controversial."
He said the leaders from the 28 EU countries agreed on increased aid to countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey which are hosting millions of refugees from war-torn Syria.
"At last an additional one billion euros will be mobilised for refugees in the region through the UNHCR and the World Food Programme," he said.
"The measures we agreed today will not end the crisis but are necessary steps in the right direction," he said.
Speaking at the same press conference, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the EU executive, said the "meeting took place in a better than expected atmosphere."
Tusk had earlier called for ending "the cycle of mutual recriminations and misunderstandings" that has undercut EU efforts to forge a common response to the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Europe is under increasing pressure over its handling of a huge influx of an estimated half a million migrants this year, many of them fleeing conflict and repression in Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
But Tusk later said: "The meeting was really excellent, for sure much better than we expected.
"It's a quite a symbolic moment. I am absolutely sure that we have stopped with this little bit risky blaming game." — AFP