17:04 GMT16 April 2021
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)
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    All the provisions of a recently adopted action plan to tackle the ongoing refugee crisis along the Western Balkans route should be put into practice, or it will be impossible to overcome the problem, a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesman for Europe, William Spindler, told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko – On Sunday, an EU emergency summit on the Western Balkans migration route, attended by the leaders of 11 governments, worked out the comprehensive 17-point action plan to cope with the refugee crisis.

    "This is the beginning of a coordinated response. But it is very important that all the points in this action plan be implemented. Otherwise it's not going to work," Spindler said.

    Over 710,000 migrants arrived in the European Union within the first nine months of 2015, according to the EU border agency Frontex. Some 160,000 refugees, mostly Syrian, will be shared out across the European Union under the European Commission’s quota scheme in the coming years.

    Spindler noted that working together, Europe has the capacity to deal with such numbers of refugees, as it represents only some 0.1 percent of the total EU population.

    The plan to cope with the refugee crisis envisages, among other points, the establishment of a permanent exchange of information and support for the refugees by providing shelters. Greece committed to increasing to 30,000 the number of places to host migrants by the end of 2015. Moreover, 50,000 new places would be available along the Western Balkans route with the help of the UNHCR.

    The plan provides for improved border management cooperation between EU agencies and financial institutions.

    UNHCR to Provide Emergency Accommodation for 25,000 Refugees in Greece

    The UN Refugee Agency will help Greece organize 25,000 additional places in temporary refugee shelters to accommodate those waiting to be resettled across EU countries, William Spindler told Sputnik.

    "From now on, after this summit, we will be passed with providing some emergency accommodation in Greece – 25,000 places will need to be found for people who are waiting for relocation to the EU countries," Spindler said.

    The UN aid agency has been distributing humanitarian assistance to migrants and refugees gathering at European borders. UNHCR has been building shelters and providing staff to manage hotspot centers at EU external borders in Greece, Serbia, and Macedonia.

    The spokesman stressed that the agency would work closer with countries close to war-torn Syria. An estimated 4 million Syrian refugees currently live in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon.

    "We need to provide them [refugees] with the assistance they need so that they are not forced to come to Europe," he said.

    To raise enough funds, the agency has called on donors from Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan for "instant" financial support. It estimates that 128 million dollars will be needed in 2015 and 2016 to fund UNHCR’s Special Mediterranean Initiative.

    In recent months, Europe has been struggling to manage a major influx of migrants fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Western Balkans route is one of the most-used pathways into the European Union for migrants and asylum seekers.

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    migrants, refugees, European Union, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), William Spindler, Syria, Greece, Balkans
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