The majority of refugees arriving in Europe are from war-torn countries and the challenge facing Europe is managing their arrival rather than preventing it, Melissa Fleming, the Spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and head of its Communications and Public Information Service, told Radio Sputnik.
"We have been saying from the very beginning, it's not a question of reducing flows, it's a question of managing the situation when people arrive at the shores of Europe and this is where Europe has failed, though it has a very good plan that has not been implemented," Fleming said.
"I would really like to emphasize who are arriving, 85 percent are coming from Syria, from Iraq and from Afghanistan, they're fleeing situations where they cannot be returned, where they are deserving of claiming asylum and refugee protection."
"So what we're emphasizing is, please don't forget the people," Fleming urged.
"I was just on the island of Lesvos in Greece, and the mayor there told me, 'it's not the refugees that are the problem, the problem is the bombs that are falling on their houses.'"
"We are urging and calling on not just Europe but other countries to increase the numbers of legal possibilities for people who are in need of asylum and refugee protection to be able to arrive, family reunification, resettlement, visas for students so that they don't have to take a dangerous boat and so there isn't such chaos in Europe."
"The refugees there have been given short shrift, for years UNHCR has been advocating on their behalf, for years we have been underfunded by the international community and that has translated to abject poverty for refugees there."
"It's quite clear when they see no chance to go home, no end in sight for the war, their children are working in the fields and the streets instead of going to school, when there's an opening in Europe it's quite clear that they thought OK, it's better for me to try to get to a place where not only can I live in safety but I can put my kids in school and have the potential to work."