Italian navy migrants
Boats packed with desperate migrants are making their way across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe.Twitter/Italian Navy

European Union ministers have managed to agree on the relocation of just over 32,000 in October, falling short of their initial target of redistributing 40,000 migrants who have arrived in Italy and Greece.

EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avrampolous told reporters:"We are almost there. The remaining 8,000 will be allocated by the end of this year, by December.

"I'm disappointed this did not happen today (20 July), but it was a very important step forward," he added, according to the BBC.

Luxembourg, which currently holds the EU's rotating six-month presidency said home affairs ministers from the EU have agreed to relocate 32,256 Syrians, Eritreans, Iraqis and Somalis.

The 40,000 migrant redistribution target was set by the European Commission after a shipwreck in the Mediterranean in April left nearly 800 people dead.

Not everyone however were happy with the plans. Spanish Home Affairs Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz was critical of the relocation plan "because it will create a pull factor", attracting more people to Europe.

Under the relocation plan, Germany offered the most places (10,500 asylum seekers and 1,600 for migrants, followed by France (6,752 places for asylum seekers and 2,375 for migrants.

Spain agreed to take in 1,300 refugees, although the EU had requested a commitment for about 4,300 refugees, Reuters reported.

Austria has refused to commit to any figure with its Interior Minister Johanna Miki-Leitner telling reporters: "Austria has become the first target country and deals wtih 10 times more asylum seekers' application than Greece and Italy put together and this cannot be right."

Hungary has been exempt from taking in any asylum seekers from Italy or Greece, Reuters said.

BBC said that although the UK, Denmark and Ireland were allowed to opt out of the programme under the EU treaties, Ireland agreed to take in 600 asylum seekers and 530 refugees while Denmark plans to take in 1,000 refugees while Britain will open its doors to 2,000 refugees.

Greece needs more help for refugees

A Syrian mother tries to
A Syrian mother tries to warm up her daugther after they arrived on the island of LesbosGetty Images

About 150,000 migrants fleeing war and poverty are estimated to have reached Europe so far this year, with the majority of them arriving at Greece and Italy. They are currently housed in camps in these two countries.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has warned that thousands of refugees are stranded in poor conditions across several Greek islands and has asked the EU to do more to help Greece tackle the growing number of migrants reaching its shores.

It said that on the island of Lesbos, about 5,000 people, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq had arrived over the past few days and that the reception centre there was "on the verge of collapse."

While on the island of Kos, about 700 people were crammed into a dilapidated building with a maximum capacity for about 200 only.

"Leaving people to fend for themselves in an abandoned building or a field full of garbage where there is hardly any water or latrines is simply unacceptable,"said Elisabetta Faga, an MSF emergency coordinated in Lesbos.