EU Approves $2.6b to Tackle Migrant Crisis

EU Approves $2.6b to Tackle Migrant CrisisEU Approves $2.6b to Tackle Migrant Crisis

The European Commission on Monday approved $2.6 billion (€2.4 billion) of aid over six years for member countries struggling to cope with a tide of immigrants as hundreds of new refugees were rescued while trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Italy and Greece will receive the bulk of aid, with nearly €560 million and €473 million earmarked for the two southern European countries respectively, France24 reported.

Tensions have escalated since the spring as thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa try to reach European shores, with the UN refugee agency calling the “chaotic” situation on Greek islands “shameful.”

More than 2,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year, making 2015 a record year for fatalities, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Several migrants have also died in the French port city of Calais, a bottleneck for migrants attempting to enter Britain via the Eurotunnel.

Some of the newly-approved EU aid will be disbursed to French and British authorities tackling the crisis in Calais.

“We are now able to disburse the funding for the French national program and the UK has already received the first disbursement of its funding,” Natasha Berthaud, a European Commission spokeswoman, told a news conference.

Meanwhile, Greek coast guards rescued more than 1,400 migrants near several islands in the Aegean Sea over the past three days, authorities said Monday.