4 September 2015 Declaring that Europe is facing “a moment of truth” with hundreds of thousands of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the head of the United Nations refugee agency today urged the European Union (EU) to admit up to 200,000 asylum-seekers fleeing conflict zones like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Europe cannot go on responding to this crisis with a piecemeal or incremental approach. No country can do it alone, and no country can refuse to do its part,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in a statement laying out a set of six guidelines ahead of a key round of emergency EU meetings on the crMore than 300,000 people have risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea so far this year. Over 2,600 didn't survive the dangerous crossing, including three-year-old Aylan, whose photo has just stirred the hearts of the world public.isis.
Mr. Guterres said the biggest influx of refugees into Europe for decades required a “massive common effort” and break with the current fragmented approach, which he said has led Europe overall to fail to find an effective common response.
“More than 300,000 people have risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea so far this year. Over 2,600 didn't survive the dangerous crossing, including three-year-old Aylan, whose photo has just stirred the hearts of the world public,” the refugee agency chief said, referring to what UNICEF called a “heart-breaking” incident in which the young Syrian boy’s body washed ashore in Turkey two days ago.
Mr. Guterres praised some exemplary and “truly inspiring” examples of generosity and moral leadership on the part of some countries and many private citizens, but reiterated his appeal for a collective strategy including a renewed drive to settle conflicts.
“A very preliminary estimate would indicate a potential need to increase relocation opportunities to as many as 200,000 places,” he recommended. “This can only work if it goes hand in hand with adequate reception capacities, especially in Greece. Solidarity cannot be the responsibility of only a few EU member States.”
“Europe is facing a moment of truth,” Mr. Guterres said, spelling out five other fundamental principles he said should be borne in mind in all efforts to resolve the issue:
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