EU summons leaders for refugee crisis summit next Wednesday

BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union has announced an emergency summit in Brussels next Wednesday, September 23 in a bid to find solutions to the continent's worst refugee crisis since World War II.

"I convene an extra EUCO (summit) on Wednesday September 23 at 18h (1600 GMT) to discuss how to deal with the refugee crisis," European Council President Donald Tusk said in a tweet.

I convene an extra #EUCO on Wednesday 23 September at 18h to discuss how to deal with the refugee crisis — Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) September 17, 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Austrian counterpart Werner Faymann had called for a summit after EU interior ministers in Brussels failed to reach a agreement Monday, September 14 on how to redistribute refugees from overstretched Hungary, Italy and Greece.

Interior ministers from the 28 member states are to hold a new emergency meeting next Tuesday, September 22 to make a last-ditch attempt to decide on relocating the 120,000 people. 

Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have voice strong objections to any mandatory relocation scheme. 

At the summit, "President Tusk would like to focus on other immediate issues that need tackling urgently if we want to get the situation under control, including in our neighborhood," according to a letter from Tusk's office obtained by AFP.

It said Tusk will also brief the leaders on his visits last week to Turkey, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Cyprus as well as his trips to Egypt on Saturday, September 19 and Jordan on Sunday, September 20, which all focus on the "shared challenges of migration."

Tusk had last week warned that he would call a special summit if the ministers failed to agree on a solution at the Brussels meeting, stressing the need for "solidarity and unity." (READ: Migrant crisis: Can EU learn from Australia?)

Pressure for action mounted on Thursday, September 17 after the European Parliament backed the relocation plan for the 120,000 refugees. –