UN to Europe: Guarantee to relocate 200,000 refugees
The United Nations has called on European states to guarantee relocation for 200,000 refugees, as record numbers flee to the continent from war-torn nations.
UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that Europe is a “wealthy” continent that could manage the numbers of people coming in.
The UN official said European Union countries needed to form a plan where it was mandatory for member states to accept refugees
“There should be EU-led mega-reception centres established in Greece, in Italy and also in Hungary – whereby the people arriving could go to these centres and be received in decent humane conditions, and apply for asylum” Fleming said.
She added that under the current system, countries on Europe’s frontier were being “overburdened”.
At an earlier press briefing, Fleming said there was not a “German solution to a European problem”, in reference to the leading role taken by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in ending the crisis.
“Those can only work if there is a guaranteed relocation system whereby European countries saying yes will take X number. We believe it should be 200,000, that’s the number we believe need relocation in Europe countries.”
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Vienna, said many refugees arriving there were worried about new measures that would restrict their movement.
“Even the Austrian government at this point doesn’t have a clear-cut path ahead… We spoke to a member of the interior ministry and quite clearly the government is struggling to come up with a coherent policy to stay within EU rules,” Jamjoom said.
A record 7,000 Syrian refugees arrived in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Monday, while some 30,000 are on Greek islands, including 20,000 on Lesbos, according to the UN.
Fleming’s comments came as EU President Donald Tusk warned that the refugee crisis affecting Europe was part of an “exodus” from war-torn countries that could last years.
Tusk said the current movement of people mainly from the Middle East would be a “problem for many years to come”.
“The present wave of migration is not a one-time incident but the beginning of a real exodus,” the EU president said addressing a thinktank in Brussels on Monday.
European leaders are scrambling for solutions as bloody conflicts in mainly Syria and Iraq send hundreds of thousands of refugees on dangerous voyages through the Balkans and across the Mediterranean.
“Let us have no illusions that we have a silver bullet to reverse the situation,” he said.
Tusk, who represents the bloc’s leaders, urged for pragmatism and said member states must put aside their deep differences in facing the crisis
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