Prime minister Mark Rutte has welcomed the agreement reached by the EU to make €1bn available to fund refugee settlements in countries close to Syria in an effort to stop people coming to Europe.
The decision, taken on Wednesday night, means a major funding boost for the World Food Programme and the UN’s refugee body UNHCR. In particular, the money will be spent on clothes and food ‘because winter is on its way,’ Rutte said.
The Netherlands is keen to see refugees being kept closer to conflict zones and has made this policy central to its acceptance of more refugees from Greece and Italy under the EU’s redistribution scheme.
The EU has also agreed to focus efforts in refugee hot spots in Greece and Italy and to help local officials set up proper care and registration structures.
Rutte told reporters after the meeting he also wants Europe to develop a common refugee policy to prevent ‘asylum shopping’. ‘We want to say “you are in Europe and we will chose where you go”,’ Rutte is quoted as saying.