The European Commission announced an emergency action plan Wednesday to spend over $750 million in humanitarian assistance for migrants over the next three years. This would mark the first time the EU distributes money and supplies directly to the UN and other aid groups (BBC) rather than to national governments. Much of the funding will be directed to Greece, which has requested over $500 million in aid (Kathimerini) to shelter an expected influx of more than one hundred thousand refugees in the coming year. On Tuesday, Greece closed ferry service to Athens from its eastern islands (FT), stranding thousands of migrants. The commission called on member states (Guardian) to lift internal border controls "as quickly as possible."
"Crisis-weary countries from Austria to Macedonia are now moving to bar the doors. Since Sunday, Macedonia and Serbia, for instance, have blocked passage to virtually all Afghans—a group accounting for roughly a third of all migrants. Even many Syrians and Iraqis without proper documentation are being turned away," writes Anthony Faiola in the Washington Post.
"EU officials are frantically searching for ways to revive a common refugee policy. One is to allow countries to take in refugees from Turkey in lieu of taking them in from Italy and Greece. But while governments in central and eastern Europe are open to this idea, Italy and Greece are not," write Duncan Robinson, Alex Barker, and Guy Chazan in the Financial Times.
"The priority must be to restore a sense of order to the migrant flows. That will help overburdened countries like Germany plan for arrivals and reassure worried citizens who see no end in sight. Europe also needs to get much better at distinguishing refugees with a genuine claim for international protection from migrants fleeing hardship," writes the Economist.
CFR-Daily News Brief