UN welcomes expanded EU support to refugees fleeing conflict, urges speedy implementation

24 September 2015 – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees today welcomed a decision by the European Union (EU) to increase resources for humanitarian assistance countries neighbouring war-ravaged Syria.

A news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also welcomed the decision by EU to relocate a further 120,000 people within Europe.

“The relocation plan will not put an end to the problem, but it hopefully will be the beginning of a solution,” António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said.

“It is an important step toward stabilizing the crisis, but much more needs to be done. The plan can only work if, at entry points in Europe, robust facilities are created to receive, assist, register and screen people. These facilities must have a capacity that could handle the current average 5,000 people arriving every day by boat,” he added.

The UN agency also welcomed the announcement that there is a critical need for additional funding that must be made available for refugees in the countries offering asylum.

“So many refugee emergencies in the Middle East and Africa are woefully underfunded, leaving refugees in conditions so dire that many chose to move on. People will continue to seek safety and survival further afield if the root causes of forced displacement are not addressed,” said Mr. Guterres.

He also noted that compared to the present situation, the current programme is limited, yet must be quickly implemented.

“In order for the system to work, effective support for the dignified return of those that do not require international protection must also be in place,” Mr. Guterres said.

He also insisted that EU must also offer protection to refugees who currently are journeying across “border after border at the mercy of criminal smugglers.”

Mr. Guterres added that the UNHCR was disappointed with the lack of legal pathways for refugees to reach safely in Europe. He also urged for “a substantial and rapid increase in legal opportunities for refugees to access the EU.”

This includes better resettlement and humanitarian admission, family reunification, private sponsorship and humanitarian and student visas. According to UNHCR, 1 in 10 Syrian refugees (approximately 400,000) are presently in need of resettlement.

“The international community as a whole should adopt the type of exceptional response which had been used in other humanitarian crises. Without such avenues, refugees will continue to be left with few options, and the increase in international efforts to crack down on smugglers and traffickers is unlikely to be effective,” the statement concluded.

The news release underscored strengthening and managing border control at the EU external border in compliance with national, EU and international law, including the guaranteeing the right to seek asylum.

Further, UNHCR has amped up its operations in affected countries due to the refugee crisis and is ready to provide full support to the EU and Member States and other stakeholders.