Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

UN asks Europe to relocate more refugees

  • The Zaatari refugee camp on Syria-Jordan border has become a city of more than 140,00 people (Photo: EUobserver)

The United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) called on European countries on Tuesday (8 September) to guarantee relocation for 200,000 refugees, shortly before EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was expected to unveil a plan for the relocation of 160,000 refugees.

“We believe it should be 200,000, that's the number we believe need relocation in European countries”, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said, according to Al Jazeera.

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She called for “EU-led mega-reception centres” in Greece, Italy, and Hungary, where most of the people have arrived.

Her comments came on the same day that German chancellor Angela Merkel called Juncker's plan “an important first step” but also noted that the figure may need to be higher as the situation on the ground evolves.

“There is another step that needs to be taken because neither Germany nor Sweden can determine the number of refugees, given that it stems from the [ever-evolving] situation”, Merkel said in Berlin, after a visit from her Swedish colleague prime minister Stefan Lofven.

Germany and Sweden have accepted a disproportionately larger share of asylum applications than their EU counterparts.

The UNHCR called on the EU “to take a common approach and [take] bold steps in managing the current refugee crisis better”.

“Countries have to show solidarity with the world's most vulnerable population, who come in search of safety in Europe. No country can be left to deal with the issue single-handedly”, the agency said in a press release.

In another document, the UNHCR gave some updated information on expected arrivals, saying that 400,000 people are expected to arrive via the Mediterranean by the end of 2015. 366,000 have arrived so far.

“In 2016 this number could reach 450,000 or more,” the UNHCR said.

Another 150,000 have until now travelled to Hungary via Serbia, with a majority of them originating from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The UN noted that the influx of refugees from war-torn Syria was to be expected, and that only 37 percent of funding that was pledged to Syria's neighbouring countries to help refugees there, has been provided so far.

“Since last year trends have been very clear, as we were trying to convey to the countries in Europe that more refugees will be on the move in [the] wake of dwindling support for them in Syria's neighbourhood. We were not heard and as we see today, Europe is unprepared for those arriving to seek international protection in Europe”, the UNHCR said.

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