EU doubles aid to states dealing with Mediterranean refugee crisis

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The European Union has doubled emergency aid to frontline member states Italy, Greece and Malta which have to deal with the massive influx of migrants coming across the Mediterranean to E50 (£35m) a year.

EU Commission spokeswoman Natasha Berthaud said “the entire emergency fund is doubling” following an agreement at yesterday’s EU summit where leaders also pledged ships, aircraft and equipment to save lives in the Mediterranean after the deaths at sea of more than 1,300 migrants over the past three weeks.

The funds can be used for reception centres for migrants, medical aid or additional staff dealing with the influx.

It is part of an overall EU fund for migration and asylum issues.

The leaders also agreed to triple funding to e9m (£6.5m) a month for the EU’s border operation patrolling the Mediterranean. At the same time Ms Bertaud said the EU border agency Frontex is to send its ships further into the Mediterranean in response to the deadly exodus from Libya.

EU leaders yesterday pledged to double the size of Frontex’s Triton mission and triple its budget but refused to allow it to do active search and rescue work. Critics say Triton is ineffective in dealing with the migrant influx because its mandate restricts its border control tasks to 30 nautical miles from land and does not allow it to approach the Libyan coast.

Ms Bertaud said a new operational plan for Triton will be agreed with Italian authorities “ in the coming days”.

Actress Angelina Jolie has pleaded with world powers to help the millions of Syrian refugees, accusing the UN Security Council of being paralysed by 
its division over the four-year conflict.