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    Refugees and asylum seekers wait after being displaced from a palace in the center of Rome on August 23, 2017

    UNHCR Urges to Prolong EU Refugee Relocation Program, Calls for More Solidarity

    © AFP 2019 / Alberto PIZZOLI
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    As the European refugee resettlement program aimed at relocating as many as 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU member states came to an end in September, a UN Refugee Agency senior official has told Sputnik that the organization sought to extend the deal.

    PARIS (Sputnik) — The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is calling for more solidarity among EU member states in tackling the migration crisis, UNHCR Senior Communications Officer in Europe Cecile Pouilly told Sputnik.

    "Resettlement is a crucial tool of solidarity with countries who host the vast majority of refugees, which means namely refugees who are next to the countries in crisis … Greece and Italy cannot handle the flow of arrivals on their own. However, solidarity not only must continue, it must be expanded and this is why we've asked for the relocation scheme to continue," Pouilly said, adding that the UNHCR would also like to see "more responsibility sharing and more solidarity among EU member states."

    Pouilly added that the number of asylum seekers, who required relocation was close to 1.2 million, while the goal set by the European Commission was to relocate 50,000, which was a "significant increase."

    "In the context of where we currently stand, we do hope EU member states do follow this recommendation, because the global needs are huge," Pouilly stressed, adding that the UNCHR also calls on the entire international community to "to step in to better protect refugees worldwide," which includes providing more opportunities for resettlement.

    The current  relocation deal came to an end in late September, with only around 30,000 refugees having been relocated. The UNHCR has asked for the program to be extended beyond the September 26 deadline.

    The European Union has been facing a massive influx of migrants and refugees from North Africa and Middle Eastern states. In September 2015, the European Commission called on the member states to resettle 160,000 asylum seekers across the bloc over a two-year period. The exact quota for each country was calculated depending on the state’s size, population and social and economic conditions.


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