Magazine article European Social Policy

Asylum : Parliament Calls for Humanitarian Conference on Syria

Magazine article European Social Policy

Asylum : Parliament Calls for Humanitarian Conference on Syria

Article excerpt

While the member states are attached to figures - 50,000 Syrians have requested asylum, mostly in Germany and Sweden, and 95% of these requests have been approved - MEPs, meeting on 9 October in Strasbourg, criticised the reaction of the international community and of Europe to the Syrian crisis. According to the United Nations, 3.5 million refugees will have fled Syria by the end of this year, most of these to neighbouring countries - which are now overwhelmed - such as Lebanon, which has received almost 800,000 refugees.

"We are still closing our eyes to this tragedy. In 20 years, in the history books, we will be seen as cowards," said Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE). On the initiative of his group, Parliament has joined Germany and the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees in calling for an international humanitarian conference on the Syrian crisis.

"Particularly, we must give temporary protection to refugees who request it," added Verhofstadt. "Some countries have only authorised 50 requests for asylum from Syrian refugees; this is a scandal, it's so cynical!"

According to a report by the European asylum office, based in Malta, as well as statistics from Europe's Frontex border surveillance agency, Syrians face increasing problems in gaining access to the EU and neighbouring countries, due to the difficulty of obtaining visas and passports in Syria - which they must have to enter most European countries.

France has not mentioned any figures, but the country's Home Affairs Minister, Manuel Valls, has been emphasising since the meeting of the Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 8 October that France has taken in 3,000 Syrian refugees in the last two years, and will continue to fulfil its responsibilities. …

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