MILAN – The Latest on Europe's response to the large number of migrants and refugees trying to reach the continent: (all times local):
The European Union says it expects to finish allocating this year all of the 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) it has pledged to Turkey to help the country accommodate the nearly 3 million Syrian refugees living there.
Senior European Commission official Myriam Ferran told EU lawmakers Thursday that "we consider we are on track. The deadline should be met."
Ferran said more than two-thirds of the money already has been allocated and 1.5 billion euros worth of contracts have been signed.
The EU offered Turkey the money in March 2016 as part of a deal to prevent migrants from reaching Greece. The agreement also calls for giving Turkey fast-tracked EU membership and visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.
An additional 3 billion euros has been promised if the initial funds are properly used.
An international aid organization is urging prosecutors to come forward with proof that NGOs operating rescue boats in the Mediterranean are colluding with migrant traffickers, saying the allegations are undermining humanitarian work.
Save the Children said Thursday that the allegations by Catania prosecutors were helping "to creating a climate of mistrusts that risks to be at the expense of children, women and men in flight."
The group repeated that it had no contact whatsoever with traffickers and that its ship, Vos Hestia, operates legally and that its finances were transparent. It said Catania prosecutors had confirmed that it is "above suspicion."
Catania's chief prosecutor has said that he has evidence that NGOs are in contact with Libyan-based smugglers who crowd migrants into unseaworthy boats for rescue just outside Libyan waters.