EU relocation program doesn’t work

EPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

Refugees from Syria arrive at the coast of Mytilini, Lesvos island, on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey, on 10 September 2015.

EU Member States have relocated just 0.17% of the asylum seekers they promised to welcome four months ago


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The EU relocation program doesn’t work, as according to British daily the Guardian, EU countries have relocated just 0.17% of the asylum seekers they promised to welcome four months ago.

In September, after numerous negotiation rounds, the majority of the European Home Affairs Ministers endorsed the relocation of just 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece to the rest of the EU countries.

However, according to the European Commission, only 272 Syrians and Eritreans have been formally relocated. The Guardian, stressed that the EU countries are failing to relocate only 0.03% of the 1,008,616 asylum seekers who arrived by sea in Italy and Greece in 2015.

According to the figures released this week, only Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Sweden relocated refugees who initially arrived in Italy. Moreover, the EU countries that accepted refugees who firstly arrived in Greece were Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Portugal. According to IOM, the total migrant inflows through the blue borders of Greece approached 850,000 arrivals for the year.

Steve Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights programme director, told the Guardian, that EU’s failure to uphold the relocation agreement is causing even more troubles to the refugees as they know that they can’t rely on the EU system in order to be able to live in the EU.

“Many of the people that this is supposed to affect are not making the [asylum] claims in Greece and Italy because they don’t trust the system and are therefore prepared to move on in their own way. (The situation) really shows a failure of all states to properly commit themselves to this from the start. It has never got off the ground and the UK’s decision even before the relocation [to opt out of the process completely] has not encouraged other states to participate. Although they’ve formally signed up, they’ve done so without any commitment.”

In December, the Associated Press (AP) reported that Italian officials urged EU Member States governments to act quicker on admitting the asylum seekers they agreed to take in. During his New Year’s Eve speech, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that Italy can handle the migrant arrivals on its own, but still Europe needs to adopt a unified asylum policy.

“Italy can go it alone (regarding the refugee handling),” Renzi said and added. “A country of 60 million can relatively easily (process) 150,000 arrivals this year, 170,000 last year – Italy does not have a numerical problem on which it needs help from Europe. The point is that we must have a unified framework, a European asylum policy,” he said.

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