Portugal is heeding a formal appeal made in May by the European Union for Member States to take on a quota of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have streamed into Europe this year via gateways like Hungary, Italy and Greece.

The EU’s border control agency, Frontex, said 23,000 migrants arrived in Greece last week alone, a 50 percent increase on the week before.

Reports suggest more than 160,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, surpassing last year’s overall total.

The New York Times has depicted Europe’s migrant crisis as a strain on the “European Union’s commitment to open borders and passport-free travel between its states” and a “test to core European values.”

An emergency meeting of interior ministers will be held on 14 September, which according to some observers, could be followed by a decisive summit of Europe’s leaders.

In response to the EU appeal, at the end of last month Portugal said it would take on between 1,400 and 1,500 migrants currently holed up in Greece and Italy.

As a result, Lisbon Town Hall has announced it will be creating a €2 million fund to support refugees who arrive in the city.

The Portuguese capital’s support centres on providing “temporary accommodation, food, heath care and education care”, explained Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina.

According to Mayor Medina, the €2 million fund will be managed “in articulation” with other national institutions that provide aid to refugees.

“We will create a fund of around two million euros, which will be used in conjunction with institutions such as the Santa Casa da Misericórdia, which is at the frontline line of response to this problem” as well as with the Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR) and the Red Cross, Medina said, “so we can give a basic and fundamental response to the humanitarian crisis.”

The Lisbon Mayor emphasised: “This is the moment to respond to the humanitarian crisis and this is the moment to act.”

He said on Wednesday that he did not yet know how many refugees the capital would shelter, but Portugal has a duty to “contribute towards saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings who are fleeing to Europe as a safe haven.”

Meanwhile, while the CRP has described the figure of 1,500 refugees as a “number that is on the table”, but its president Teresa Tito de Morais has said she believes Portugal is capable of taking in more.

“We [the CPR] are currently accommodating 300 refugees who spontaneously came to our country, in our reception centres and external housing. If there were five municipalities that would welcome a few hundred we could quickly accommodate more [than the 1,500 put forward by the government]”, she reasoned.

The CPR has praised the nation for heeding the Council’s appeal to help the refugees.

A source from the CPR told The Portugal News on Wednesday that “hundreds” of families, companies, organisations and institutions have come forward to offer their support in welcoming potential Portugal-bound migrants.

The Red Cross has said it is willing to set up a refugee camp in the Algarve while scores of private homeowners have also showed willing in accommodating families or taking in children.

According to reports the Red Cross’s camp would have covered 1,700 square metres on a plot of land in Fuzeta, near Moncarapacho, in the Eastern Algarve, which was intended for the construction of a nursery but which became unnecessary following a drop in the birth rate.

However, Olhão council has since come forward with alternative locations to the Fuseta camp, which is located within the county of Olhão, to avoid “harming the development of tourism.”

The legal parameters that would regulate the distribution of refugees among willing accommodators are not yet known.

In related news, officers belonging to Portugal’s GNR police force, who were dispatched to help patrol the Mediterranean Sea, have detected over 3,000 migrants trying to access Europe.

The nine-man Portuguese team saved 1,265 of those migrants from “situations of risk” at sea.

A spokesperson for the force said a “very substantial rise” in figures has been registered this year, in comparison to previous years when numbers were in the low-hundreds, and which “demonstrates the size of the problem.”

In an interview with CNN the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres, said the migrant crisis requires “a coherent response and that only Europe, based on solidarity, can provide.

“No country by itself can do it”, he added, stressing: “These people are forced to go by boat, they pay four or five thousand Euros and they die in these desperate circumstances.”