World Refugee Day: The EU Response

World Refugee Day: The EU Response
By Euronews

June 20 is World Refugee Day when the United Nations honours “the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees”.

The UN argues that: “In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.”

And it says that every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.

So what is the EU doing to help?

Between 2014-2016, it took in some 1.6 million people.

Numbers arriving on Greek shores fell after the bloc’s deal with transit country Turkey but Italy is facing increased arrivals from Libya.

The bloc has been at loggerheads over how to handle the influx.

In one initiative to ease pressure on Greece and Italy, the EU set up a scheme in 2015 to relocate 160,000 migrants to other member states.

To date, fewer than 21,000 have been relocated. That is not good enough for the #SickOfWaiting umbrella movement.

Co-founder Maria Penalosa Mendez told Euronews: “In #SickOfWaiting we are urging the European governments at a national level to fulfill their commitments regarding the hosting of refugees both in terms of accepting on time the quotas for resettlement and relocation schemes and in terms of speeding up the family reunification process.”

Poland and Hungary have refused to take in anyone under the plan. The Czech Republic initially accepted 12 people but says it won’t welcome more.

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against all three countries.

Slovakia has also been stalling over the plan.

The easterners cite security concerns for refusing to admit people from the mainly Muslim Middle East and North Africa, given recent Islamist attacks in Europe.

Hungary and Slovakia have challenged the relocation agreement in a top EU court, with an initial indication of the ruling due next month.

#SickOfWaiting will travel to the European Parliament later this month to lobby for faster action.

The EU is working to help migrants in other ways.

On June 20, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis announced that it had adopted new projects totalling €275 million. It said they would “support refugees and their overstretched host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, the Western Balkans, and Armenia”.

A statement added: “The newly adopted assistance package brings the current overall volume of the EU Trust Fund up to over €1 billion which was the goal set by President Juncker on 23 September 2015 at the Informal meeting of the European Council on migration and in the Communication on Managing the Refugee Crisis.”

with Reuters

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