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EU reassigns 3.5 bln euros of regional funds to hosting Ukraine refugees

The European Union’s executive on Wednesday made a fresh 3.5 billion euros ($3.7 billion) from regional development funds available to host Ukrainian refugees after some 6.2 million fled to the bloc since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24.

Russia intensified its attacks on all fronts on Wednesday, a day after a missile strike on a shopping mall killed at least 18 people in central Ukraine.

“EU member states have welcomed millions of Ukrainians fleeing from this war, but they also have to deal with its economic consequences – extra costs and supply chain difficulties,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, a deputy head of the executive European Commission.

The money will be paid out to EU countries, local authorities and civil society groups as pre-financing this year and the next, including to raise weekly allowance for hosting people to 100 euros from 40 euros currently.

The bloc had 63.4 billion euros in such cohesion funds to spend in 2014-20 to help poorer countries from Portugal, Greece and Malta to Hungary, Poland and Lithuania catch up with their wealthier peers. A further 392 billion euros are due until 2027.

The bloc’s top official responsible for cohesion funds, Elisa Ferreira, said this was the second 3.5-billion-euro tranche reallocated to give EU countries more resources swiftly as they face emergency costs.