EU plans 1.8 billion euro fund to curb influx of African migrants
BRUSSELS - The EU is setting up a 1.8-billion-euro ($2-billion) trust fund to help curb the influx of desperate migrants from Africa seeking a better life in Europe, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday.
The new fund is "to address the crises in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions, the Horn of Africa, and the North of Africa," Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg as he unveiled plans to cope with the biggest migrant crisis since World War II.
"We want to help create lasting stability, for instance by creating employment opportunities in local communities, and thereby address the root causes of destabilisation, forced displacement and illegal migration," he said.
The fund is also aimed at helping African nations improve migration management and fight traffickers, the EU said.
Most of the refugees flooding into Europe are fleeing war in Syria but waves of so-called economic migrants from many other countries have joined the flow.
Juncker said the trust fund would be financed by available money in the EU budget as well as voluntary contributions from national governments, although only Spain has pitched in so far.
"I am counting on the contribution of member states," Juncker said.
The goal is to have the fund fully established in time for the EU-African Union summit in Malta on November 11-12, he added.
In his speech, Juncker also urged EU nations to relocate 160,000 refugees as part of efforts to help overwhelmed front-line states such as Greece, Italy and Hungary.