EU states should take 200,000 more refugees: UN

RefugeesEU states should take 200,000 more refugees: UN

Published 4 September 2015

António Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, has called on European Union countries to admit up to 200,000 refugees as part of a large-scale relocation program which would be mandatory for all EU states. Guterres said the EU was facing a defining moment and must “mobilize full force” toward a common approach to the migration crisis. Guterres’s appeal followed a joint call by France and Germany for binding EU quotas which would require all EU member states to share the burden of the influx of migrants and refugees. The wave of tens of thousands of refugees has hit Greece, Italy, and countries in south-eastern and central Europe especially hard.

António Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, has called on European Union countries to admit up to 200,000 refugees as part of a large-scale relocation program which would be mandatory for all EU states.

Guterres said the EU was facing a defining moment and must “mobilize full force” toward a common approach to the migration crisis.

U.K. prime minister David Cameron, modifying an earlier announcement, confirmed that the UK will provide settlement for thousands more Syrian refugees. Cameron said the British government would “act with our head and our heart” in response to the crisis and refugees’ suffering. He is expected to offer more details of his plans later on Friday at a press conference in Madrid with the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.

The Guardian reports that thousands of people remain outside Budapest’s main railway station in what has in effect become Europe’s newest refugee camp. Hungary yesterday closed its main border crossing with Serbia after about 300 people escaped from a nearby refugee camp.

Hungarian politicians are now debating tough new anti-immigration measures, including criminalizing illegal border crossings and tampering with the new anti-immigrant razor-wire fence erected along the Serbian border.

Guterres, who has been in office since 2005, said: “Europe cannot go on responding to this crisis with a piecemeal or incremental approach.

“No country can do it alone, and no country can refuse to do its part. It is no surprise that, when a system is unbalanced and dysfunctional, everything gets blocked when the pressure mounts.

“This is a defining moment for the European Union, and it now has no other choice but to mobilize full force around this crisis.

“The only way to solve this problem is for the union and all member states to implement a common strategy, based on responsibility, solidarity and trust.”

He added: “People who are found to have a valid protection claim in this initial screening must then benefit from a mass relocation program, with the mandatory participation of all EU member states.

“A very preliminary estimate would indicate a potential need to increase relocation opportunities to as many as 200,000 places.”

EU foreign ministers are due to meet Friday to discuss the continent’s refugee crisis.

Guterres’s appeal followed a joint call by France and Germany for binding EU quotas which would require all EU member states to share the burden of the influx of migrants and refugees. The wave of tens of thousands of refugees has hit Greece, Italy, and countries in south-eastern and central Europe especially hard.

Agence France-Presse was told by a European source that Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, would next week unveil a plan for the relocation of at least 120,000 more refugees.

The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, voiced his opposition to any EU action increase the number of refugees and asylum seekers beyond the current limits. He said the flow of migrants into Europe was endless and if the EU did not protect its borders, tens of millions more may come.

“The reality is that Europe is threatened by a mass inflow of people, many tens of millions of people could come to Europe,” he said last Friday. “Now we talk about hundreds of thousands but next year we will talk about millions and there is no end to this.”

Referring to the fact that most of the current refugees and asylum seekers nocking in Europe’s door are Muslims, Urban added: “All of a sudden we will see that we are in minority in our own continent,” he said, urging Europe “to show strength in protecting our borders.”

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