UNHCR chief Guterres stresses need to fight human trafficking, protect victims

EU needs to accelerate and intensify" efforts to resolve the crisis in view of recent influx to Europe of refugees fleeing war.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres (right) greets French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (left).  © UNHCR/A. Lechat

GENEVA, Aug 26 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency head António Guterres on Wednesday reiterated the need to protect refugees fleeing to Europe by ensuring they are protected from human traffickers and that a properly functioning system is created to allow them to apply for asylum legally.

At a joint press conference with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in Geneva, he said such a system would help replace the currently "dysfunctional" approach within the European Union to the handling of the influx of refugees to Europe.

"If we fight traffickers, protect victims and put in place a system to allow refugees to apply for asylum legally, we will succeed (in handling the crisis)," he said.

However, he added that the EU needed to "accelerate and intensify" efforts to resolve the crisis.

Cazeneuve briefed Guterres on important efforts and measures taken by the French and British governments regarding the migrants situation in Calais.

He stressed that France and Germany were committed to handling the current influx of refugees in a manner in keeping with their international obligations while fully respecting values such as responsibility and solidarity which lay at the heart of the creation of the European Union.

Guterres said funding for efforts to help Syrian refugees in the countries of first asylum, such as Lebanon and Turkey, was well below target, at some 41 per cent of current projected needs and called for an examination of new ways of financing the current situation as all humanitarian organisations were facing a shortfall.

By Jonathan Clayton, Geneva