UN launches plan to deal with refugee crisis in Europe

Geneva, March 4 (IANS) The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday issued a six-point plan to guide EU member states in solving the refugee crisis which is showing no signs of abating.

“We are running out of time, and strong leadership and vision are urgently needed from European leaders to deal with what is, in my view, a situation that can still be managed if properly addressed,” Xinhua quoted UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi as saying in a statement.

“This is as much a crisis of European solidarity as it is a refugee crisis,” he added.

UNHCR suggested fully implementing the ‘hot spot’ approach and the relocation of asylum seekers out of Greece and Italy while returning those who do not qualify for refugee protection.

The UN agency also called for increased support to Greece to address the humanitarian emergency, while ensuring compliance with all EU laws and asylum directives by member states.

The agency also proposed to make available safer, legal ways for refugees to travel to Europe through humanitarian admission programmes, private sponsorships, family reunion, student scholarships and labour mobility schemes.

The safe-guard of individuals at risk, including unaccompanied and separated children, and the implementation of measures preventing sexual and gender-based violence were integral to the plan.

Finally, UNHCR called for Europe-wide systems of responsibility to achieve a managed and orderly solution to the crisis which has already seen close to 135,000 migrants reach EU soil this year.

“Europe has successfully dealt with large-scale refugee movements in the past, during the Balkans Wars for example, and can deal with this one, provided it acts in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility sharing,” Grandi concluded.

European heads of states will meet Turkey on March 7 in Brussels.

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