Germany pledges 6 bn euros for refugees, France to take 24,000

Germany pledges 6 bn euros for refugees, France to take 24,000

Germany pledges 6 bn euros for refugees, France to take 24,000
Germany pledged an extra six billion euros today to help the record numbers of desperate refugees crossing its borders, with France vowing to take in 24,000 over the next two years.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the scenes of spontaneous solidarity from hundreds of Germans who greeted families fleeing wars in Syria and beyond at railway stations with gifts and welcome signs were moving and "breathtaking".

"What we are experiencing now is something that will occupy and change our country in coming years," she said as French president Francois Hollande vowed his country would take a larger share.

Under pressure from Paris and Berlin, the European Union is readying fresh quotas that would see the two top EU economies take nearly half of the 120,000 refugees to be relocated under a plan by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

According to Juncker's proposal for mandatory quotas for EU states which is set to be unveiled Wednesday, Germany would take 31,443 and France 24,031, to relieve the burden on Greece, Italy and Hungary, a European source told AFP.

Spain would take 14,931 under the plan, the source said. Migrant numbers have spiked since Friday, when Austria and Germany threw open their borders and eased travel restrictions to allow in thousands who had made it to Hungary, which has balked at the influx.

Merkel's government -- which expects to accept 800,000 asylum-seekers this year, four times last year's total -- earmarked the additional six billion euros ($6.7 billion) to house and feed the newcomers for the next year.

"In these weeks and months, Germany is the destination for an unprecedented number of refugees who are seeking protection from war, persecution and distress," the ruling coalition said after overnight talks.

Hundreds of refugees and their children again sat on blankets and suitcases early Monday outside Berlin's refugee registration centre in scenes repeated across the country.

But the government hailed the "wave of solidarity" that Germans were showing and said the country's economic strength would enable it to meet the challenge.
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