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New EU plan would allocate 120,000 refugees among member states

The latest EU proposal, which would be legally binding, is set to be discussed on Wednesday
A Macedonian soldier helps refugees as they cross the Greek-Macedonian border near Gevgelija, Macedonia on 2, September 2015 (AA)

Germany and France will be asked to take nearly half of the 120,000 refugees to be relocated from frontline states under a plan by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, a European source told AFP on Monday.

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 over the next two years, to relieve the burden on Greece, Italy and Hungary, the source said. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the record influx of refugees to Europe's biggest economy will change the country in coming years.

"What we are experiencing now is something that will occupy and change our country in coming years," she said after 20,000 migrants arrived during this weekend alone.

"We want that the change is positive, and we believe we can accomplish that," she added.

Yet there are fears that Germany is not able to provide either temporary or permanent accommodation at the rate that the refugees are coming in. Silvia Kostner, spokeswoman for the Berlin State Office of Health and Welfare, said city officials are always searching for facilities that can accommodate refugees, from abandoned car showrooms to empty trade fair sites.

“Every day, we have about 500 people new, totally new, coming to our place to be registered–every day!” Kostner told IRIN. “On Friday, we opened a new emergency place where 1,000 people can sleep, and now it is full.”

President Francois Hollande said Monday France would take in 24,000 refugees over the next two years and proposed to host an international conference on the migration crisis.

"This is a crisis, and it is a grave and dramatic one. It can be brought under control and it will be," he said.

Spain would take 14,931 under the plan, the source said.

Europe has been spurred into action by public outrage over pictures of the body of Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned with his brother and mother while the family were crossing from Turkey to Greece last week.

Juncker is due to formally announce his plan for the relocation of 120,000 refugees in his EU State of the Union speech on Wednesday.

But many states including Hungary are opposed to quotas, and an earlier Juncker plan for the mandatory relocation of 40,000 refugees was rejected by EU member states at a summit in June.

"As long as we can't defend Europe's outer borders, it is not worth talking about how many people we can take in," Orban said in a speech to Hungarian diplomats in Budapest on Monday.

"The quota system wants to treat the effects before it treats the causes of immigration. The main reason for this is because (the EU) cannot control its outer borders," he said.

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