IOC to set up $2 million refugee fund

Tens of thousands have fled Syria, crossing via Turkey and Greece on their way to central & northern Europe.

Migrants cross into Hungary from Serbia next to the 4 meter tall border fence at the crossing point near the village of Asotthalom on 1 September 2015. The EU is grappling with an unprecedented influx of people fleeing war, repression and poverty in what the bloc has described as its worst refugee crisis in 50 years. Picture: : AFP.

BERLIN - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday decided to set up a two million-dollar refugee fund as the migrant crisis grips Europe.

Tens of thousands have fled the Syrian conflict in recent weeks, crossing via Turkey and Greece on their way to central and northern Europe.

The plight of those fleeing conflict in their own countries such as Syria, as well as economic migrants escaping poverty, has polarised opinion in Europe, with the amount of new arrivals stretching the EU's asylum system, as well as straining relations within the bloc.

"We have all been touched by the terrible news and the heartbreaking stories in the past few days," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

"With this terrible crisis unfolding across the Middle East, Africa and Europe, sport and the Olympic Movement wanted to play its part in bringing humanitarian help to the refugees."

He says they have made a quick decision to make the fund immediately available.

The amount would be distributed through projects proposed by National Olympic Committees and other interested parties and the whole process would be done "extremely quickly" given the nature of the crisis, the IOC said.

The IOC is the latest sports body to take action in the migrant crisis. Bayern Munich on Thursday pledged to set up a training camp and raise one million euros in aid while several other sports organisations or football clubs have plans to help in this issue.