World, Europe

EU falls short of goal for relocating refugees

Total number of relocations stands at 16,340, far below the promised 160,000 by this September

12.04.2017
EU falls short of goal for relocating refugees

By Ata Ufuk Seker 

BRUSSELS

European countries have relocated only 10 percent of the refugees they promised to shelter by this September, figures from the European Commission showed Wednesday.

According to the commission’s 11th Relocation and Resettlement Report, the total number of relocations stands at 16,340 since last March, far below its 160,000 goal for relocating refugees from Greece and Italy under an EU-Turkey deal reached in March 2016.

But the report tried to accentuate the positive, saying, "Member States have made steady progress on relocation, setting a new monthly record with an additional 2,465 persons relocated."

"Now is the time for our Member States to deliver on their commitments and to intensify their efforts. They have a political, moral and legal duty to do so," said Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner in charge of migration.

"Relocating all people eligible from Greece and Italy over the coming months is perfectly feasible. We are delivering on our commitments to share responsibility with third countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon."

According to the report, a total of 4,618 Syrian refugees out of a promised 72,000 have so far been provided with safe and legal passage to Europe under the EU-Turkey Statement of last March.

The March 2016 deal aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of the Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Turkey now hosts some 3 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. The country has spent around $25 billion helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

The deal also included a 6 billion euro ($6.8 billion) aid package to help Turkey care for the millions of refugees hosted in the country. However, Turkey has so far received only 677 million euros ($716 million).

The agreement also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area that comprises most EU states.

But contrary to the deal, the EU has not given Turkish nationals visa-free privileges, with the bloc demanding changes to Turkey’s terrorism legislation that Ankara says are out of the question.

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