£100m for migrants but British response ‘pitiful’

Migrants and refugees preparing to enter a camp after crossing the Greek border from Macedonia. Picture: AFP/Getty
Migrants and refugees preparing to enter a camp after crossing the Greek border from Macedonia. Picture: AFP/Getty
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DAVID Cameron has said Britain is to commit another £100 million to supporting refugees in camps bordering Syria as he arrived for an emergency EU summit on the migrant crisis.

The Prime Minister made the announcement after Tim Farron, in his first keynote conference speech as Liberal Democrat leader, condemned his response to the crisis as “pitiful and embarrassing”.

Mr Farron said the UK should opt in to the European Union plan to resettle refugees who had made perilous trips to the continent, warning that “if we don’t act now, many more will die”.

Arriving in Brussels, Mr Cameron said £40m of the additional £100m cash would go to support the underfunded World Food Programme.

“We must make sure that people in refugee camps are properly fed, and looked after, not least to help them but also to stop people wanting to make or thinking of making this very, very difficult and very dangerous journey to Europe,” he said.

The leaders were meeting the day after EU interior ministers agreed a controversial plan to relocate 120,000 refugees currently in Italy, Greece and Hungary among the member states.

The scheme provoked a furious row with four former Eastern bloc states - Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic - voting against while Finland abstained.

Britain - which is not required to take part as it is not part of the “borderless” Schengen area - has exercised its right to opt out.

Mr Cameron emphasised the need for the EU to take a “comprehensive” approach to the crisis with action to stabilise the countries the refugees - who have been pouring into Europe throughout the summer - are fleeing.

The Prime Minister is expected to use the meeting to press member states to do more to remove economic migrants who are not entitled to refugee status and are coming to Europe in the hope of finding a better way of life.

The president of the European Council Donald Tusk - who summoned the meeting - said it was “critical” that member states set aside their differences and agreed on a concrete plan “in place of the arguments and the chaos we have witnessed” in recent weeks.

He warned that the numbers of refugees trying to reach Europe from the Middle East could rise into the millions as the turmoil in the region continued.

However Slovakia’s prime minister Robert Fico said his country was not prepared to implement the relocation plan and warned that it could mount a legal challenge through the European Court of Justice.

“We won’t implement this decision because we think it can’t work,” he said. “We always rejected it as nonsense.”

Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who also opposed the quota scheme, said he would not “escalate tensions” by taking legal action.