UN urges Europe to develop coherent response to refugee crisis
Sept.16, Geneva: While welcoming the steps taken by European leaders at their meeting in Brussels to tackle the current refugee crisis, the United Nations refugee agency said a robust and coherent response is still urgently needed.
Monday’s meeting of the European Council of Ministers saw the formal adoption of an earlier relocation proposal involving 40,000 people.
“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,” Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a press conference in Geneva.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, High Commissioner António Guterres warned that the EU must move quickly to help solve the crisis.
Guterres pointed out that the massive influx of Syrian refugees is the result of a loss of hope, as well as severe cuts in life-saving assistance in the neighbouring countries’ refugee camps due to of lack of funding. For example, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has been forced to cut down on food assistance by 40 per cent.
While welcoming a proposed relocation scheme for 160,000 refugees from Greece, Italy and Hungary, Guterres emphasized that estimates have indicated an even higher number that will require assistance.
“A plan B is necessary,” he said. “We can’t wait until October for another meeting of the European Council who then reverts back to the European Parliament, then back to the European Council … the Union has 500 million people – it’s a manageable situation, and it needs to be managed.”
The Oslo Times