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Refugees from Syria. The limit is reached. It's up to Europe to play

(BRUSSELS2) In recent weeks, faced with the Syrian tragedy, the tone has changed at the European Commission. In turn, two commissioners we interviewed, Kristalina Georgieva (Humanitarian Aid) and Cecilia Malmström (Internal Affairs) did not hide their concern about the dramatic situation of Syrian (and Palestinian) refugees. Neighboring countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Türkiye, etc.) have welcomed many refugees. “ They can't really accommodate more. They are already doing the maximum » Commissioner Georgieva told us. And Europe supports this effort: 1,9 billion euros committed to help neighboring countries.

Gradual degradation that can get worse quickly

But before MEPs, at the Foreign Affairs Committee, on Tuesday, she confirmed this pessimism. " I can't say the outlook is rosy. We have a gradual degradation. Three hypotheses can be envisaged: the status quo, a situation that is gradually deteriorating, or that is rapidly worsening (either due to unforeseen circumstances in Syria or if Lebanon gives in to migratory pressure). In any case, humanitarian needs will therefore increase. » The worst is therefore not excluded!

If Lebanon breaks down...

There is a " snowball effect of the crisis in Jordan and Lebanon and the risk of destabilization for these countries and for us in Europe. We anticipate an increase in refugees if Lebanon collapses, the risk of a wave of refugees towards Europe becomes real. There is (already) a sharp increase in refugees crossing the border. » 

More solidarity between Member States

The Commissioner therefore pleads for more solidarity between the Member States. He " it would be necessary for the European Parliament to succeed in reaching an agreement for better harmonization (on the asylum situation)”. And why not go on the basis of the “temporary protection” directive. « During the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, we developed an emergency plan in Europe. It is important that we start from this experience” (*).

The Commissioner answering a question from B2 (credit: European Commission)
The Commissioner answering a question from B2 (credit: European Commission)

One solution, resettlement

The situation remains very critical, agrees his Swedish colleague in charge of Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström. Whereas " the vast majority were hosted in neighboring countries ", Europe in " welcomed 55.000. Proportionally it's not much she explained in a response to a question from B2. " We are working to identify solutions as part of the task force “Mediterranean”. But there is no no easy solution ". " We encourage all Member States to (offer visas) allowing the resettlement of refugees ».

That is to say, to authorize the reception in Europe of people already welcomed in neighboring countries. “ Around 5000 people were thus accommodated for resettlement. It's not really much. If everyone made the same effort as Sweden and Germany, for example, we could accommodate around 100.000 people. It is not negligible. But there are countries that make no effort. » The commissioner accompanies the declaration with an explicit gesture, drawing a circle between her thumb and index finger!…

(*) To follow the “verbatim” of the intervention of the commissioner on Syria and the Central African Republic: on the Club

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

One thought on “Refugees from Syria. The limit is reached. It's up to Europe to play"

  • Kristalina Georgieva is interested on two counts: her portfolio as commissioner for humanitarian aid, but also a Bulgarian political personality… and opposed to the current policy followed by Bulgaria in terms of closing the borders.

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