UNHCR – Robust, coherent Europe response to Refugee crisis still urgently needed
Yesterday's meeting in Brussels of the European Council of Ministers saw the formal adoption of an earlier relocation proposal involving 40,000 people. This is a single welcome step towards addressing the current refugee situation in Europe, but it is clear that much more is still needed.
UNHCR is deeply disappointed that although a majority of Member States were in agreement with a wider relocation proposal involving 120,000 people, a final consensus on this could not be reached. Decisive agreement is needed without further delay to address the needs, as is bold action based on solidarity from all Member States. Relocation of increased numbers beyond the 40,000 could start to be implemented with countries that have expressed support. To succeed, relocation has then to be accompanied by large-scale emergency reception, assistance and registration efforts in the countries most impacted by arrivals, particularly Greece, Hungary and Italy.
A positive development in the Presidency conclusions is the support to Greece in reception and asylum, which is critical for the success of the relocation programme. In addition, UNHCR is pleased to see the inclusion of support for affected countries in the Western Balkans to implement their obligations in relation to people in need of international protection. Special support is needed for Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to support efforts to assist refugees.
We welcome the announcement of increased support by the EU and Member States to UNHCR to respond to the needs of refugees in countries neighbouring Syria. The vast majority of Syrian refugees are hosted by these countries. Efforts are needed to address root causes of forced displacement around the world. A comprehensive response to refugee situations needs diplomacy, political will, and concerted action for the prevention, as well as resolution of conflicts that force people to move.
Saving lives of refugees and migrants at sea continues to be a critical priority, as brought home by several boat tragedies over the past few days including this morning off Kos where it's reported that at least 13 people have lost their lives. In this context, UNHCR welcomes the commitment to further strengthen Frontex sea operations.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
- In Budapest, Babar Baloch on +36 30 530 9633
- In Berlin, Martin Rentsch on mobile +49 176 64 69 6360
- In Belgrade, Melita Sunjic on mobile +381 63 343 134
- In Rome, Carlotta Sami, on mobile +39 335 679 47 46
- In London, Andrej Mahecic on mobile +44 78 8023 0985
- In Vienna, Ruth Schoeffl on mobile +43 699 1459 5307
- In Paris, Celine Schmitt on mobile + 33 6 23 16 11 78
- In Geneva, Melissa Fleming on office no. +41 22 739 7965
- In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 9120
- In Geneva, William Spindler on mobile +41 79 217 3011