European Commission says Member States urgently need to deliver on refugee promises

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will attend tomorrow's EU summit, on his return from St Patrick's Day duties in the US

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Afghan migrants wait inside an abandoned building in Cesme, Izmir, Turkey, Saturday, March 12, 2016, for their journey to the Greek island of Chios. Picture by: Emre Tazegul / AP/Press Association Images

The European Commission says Member States urgently need to deliver on promises to take refugees fleeing conflict on Europe's borders.

Last year, Governments agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees from countries under extreme pressure like Greece and Italy.

Some pledged to take a specific number - but to date just 937 refugees have been relocated.

The Commission is concerned by what it describes as the lack of political will and is urging governments to keep their promises.

Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said, "Member States urgently need to deliver on their commitments and prevent a further deterioration of the situation for refugees in Greece. We need to see a substantial increase in relocations in the coming days and weeks.

"Member States also need to provide alternative safe and legal routes to Europe for people in need of international protection and to show solidarity with third countries affected by the refugee crisis through a significant increase in EU resettlement efforts," he added.

European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos. Image: Virginia Mayo / AP/Press Association Images

The comments come ahead of a meeting of the European Council tomorrow.

The European Union is proposing an aid package of €6 billion to Turkey, as it tries to deal with the massive volume of refugees.

The deal would come with certain conditions attached.

These include the "one-for-one" plan, under which Turkey no longer facilitates illegal immigrants to reach the Greek Islands.

For every migrant turned back, the EU will accept a properly documented asylum-seeker from Turkey.

Sean Kelly, MEP, is hopeful of agreement:

"It is legal, rather than illegal. It is regular, rather than irregular. It is safe, rather than unsafe.

I am quite sure that on March 17th - St Patrick's Day - who himself (St Patrick) was a migrant or a slave coming from Wales to Ireland, he might inspire the leaders on that day to come up with a good solution."

One million crossed

Over a million people had tried to cross into Europe by the end of last year. A huge number of those asylum seekers are fleeing conflict in Syria.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of conflict in the Middle Eastern country. 

Aid agencies working with those displaced by the war have been reminding the international community of the plight they face.