Migrant crisis: Europe to detail latest plans to deal with asylum seeker influx


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09-09-2015 12:14 PM


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Radio National


09-09-2015 12:14 PM



09-09-2015 01:16 PM

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2015-09-09 12:14:16

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MARK, David




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Migrant crisis: Europe to detail latest plans to deal with asylum seeker influx -

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DAVID MARK: The European Commission will later today announce plans detailing how the continent will relocate around 160,000 refugees.

The new plan is likely to include mandatory national quotas to cope with the mass tide of humanity fleeing from conflict in the Middle East.

Germany and Sweden are backing binding quotas, saying that the responsibility needs to be shared.

Sarah Sedghi reports.

SARAH SEDGHI: Like many people seeking asylum from Syria, this man has made to Greece, but he wants to keep going.

FAWZI MAGDALAWI: My final destination is Germany. Germany welcome us and give us many rights, many rights.

SARAH SEDGHI: Germany has said it would take around 800,000 asylum seekers this year.

But chancellor Angela Merkel has made it clear she wants to see other European countries step-up.

ANGELA MERKEL (translated): I have rarely been so convinced inwardly that this is a task which decides about the future of Europe and whether we are accepted as a continent of values and individual freedom. The whole world is looking at us and we can't just say, 'Listen, Syria is too far away, we won't deal with the problem.'

SARAH SEDGHI: Germany wants quotas imposed on European nations so that refugees are relocated more fairly.

Sweden and Spain are among the countries on board.

Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven says Europe is morally bound to help those seeking asylum.

STEFAN LOFVEN (translated): We have a human catastrophe here. These people, just like the ones sitting here, are in a situation which no one wants to find himself in. According to estimates about 1 million people are coming to Europe. Europe is a continent with over 500 million people. Think of a place with 500 inhabitants and then one more person arrives and we say, 'No no, we don't have any room for this one person, we can't help him.' This is a deep moral obligation.

SARAH SEDGHI: But not everyone agrees. Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are strongly opposed to a mandatory quota system.

Just this year more than 350,000 asylum seekers have reached Europe.

The UN Refugee Agency says, by the year's end, around 400,000 people will have made it there by sea.

But the UN high commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres is unimpressed by Europe's handling of the situation so far.

ANTONIO GUTERRES: I think it is clear that this is a serious crisis. But for me, it is also clear that if Europe would be properly organised, it would be a manageable crisis. We are talking about four or 5,000 people per day in a Union that has 508 million people. We had until now 300,000 who have crossed the Mediterranean, which is lass then one per 1,000 of the European population.

In Lebanon, we have one third of its population refugee.

So I think we need recognising that this became a very serious crisis in Europe; it is a very serious crisis also largely because Europe is not organised to deal with it, because the European asylum system has been extremely dysfunctional and, in the recent weeks, completely chaotic.

SARAH SEDGHI: With more than 50 million people displaced around the world, he fears the crisis will only deepen.

ANTONIO GUTERRES: There are no reasons to be optimistic about forced displacement in the world. The Syria crisis is not the only one; it is of course the biggest one and the one that is closer to the European borders.

But either the world increases its capacity to improve prevention and to more effectively solve conflicts, or I think that the refugee problem is going to go on increasing in the years to come.

SARAH SEDGHI: Later today the European Commission will outline its latest response to the crisis, and how it plans to distribute around 160,000 refugees across the EU.

DAVID MARK: Sarah Sedghi.