UNHCR urges Central European leaders to show solidarity with refugees ahead of the V4 Summit

UNHCR urges Central European leaders to show solidarity with refugees ahead of the V4 Summit

UNHCR Press Release

Budapest, 11 February 2016

UNHCR urges Central European leaders to show solidarity with refugees ahead of the V4 Summit

The UN Refugee Agency is urging leaders in Central Europe to show greater solidarity with desperate refugees who seek sanctuary in the continent as war, conflict and extremism force millions out of their homes.

UNHCR's call comes ahead of the Visegrad Group Summit in Prague on February 15, where leaders from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia will discuss regional issues, including the ongoing refugee crisis. Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are also invited to participate.

"While UNHCR fully understands that public opinions can sometimes be apprehensive about the unfolding situation in Europe, it is important to give both relocation and resettlement a chance to work. These tools of solidarity create an alternative to smuggling and trafficking and could reduce dangerous onward movements.

It is time for the leadership in Central Europe to set a strong example and commit to help families fleeing war and human rights violations, irrespective of their nationality or religion," said Montserrat Feixas Vihé, UNHCR's Regional Representative for Central Europe.

"Leaders in the region need to offer safety to people fleeing persecution. They cannot be bystanders during this unprecedented humanitarian situation. The world expects them to contribute to saving lives and restoring hope for those who have lost everything."

The V4 States were hosting some 25,000 refugees in 2015, 0.125 percent of the nearly 20 million global refugee population. Hungary received 177,000 asylum-seeker applications in 2015, but the vast majority of them left within a few days. The other three V4 countries combined received some 14,000 asylum claims.

"A unified humanitarian approach in Europe based on solidarity and responsibility sharing would turn this situation into a manageable, coordinated program ensuring people would find refuge, safety and dignity," said UNHCR's Feixas Vihé.

"Several times during their rich history, these very same countries have provided safe refuge for hundreds of thousands of refugees and could do so again."

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