Europe ‘close to lim­its’ on refugee in­flux

The Myanmar Times - - World -

EUROPE is “close to lim­its” on its abil­ity to ac­cept new waves of refugees, EU Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk said yes­ter­day, urg­ing the broader in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to shoul­der its share of the bur­den.

“The prac­ti­cal ca­pa­bil­ity of Europe to host new waves of refugees, not to men­tion ir­reg­u­lar eco­nomic mi­grants, is close to lim­its,” he said on the side­lines of the G20 sum­mit.

A steady stream of refugees has flowed into Europe over the last year, largely flee­ing from the civil war in Syria.

The is­sue has be­come a po­lit­i­cal hot potato for lead­ers in the re­gion as a se­ries of Is­lamist ter­ror at­tacks and ris­ing anti-glob­al­i­sa­tion sentiment have com­bined to cre­ate an in­creas­ingly in­hos­pitable en­vi­ron­ment for refugees.

The highly pub­li­cised drown­ing of a three-year-old Syr­ian boy last year tem­po­rar­ily soft­ened hos­til­ity to mi­grants, af­ter pic­tures of his corpse ly­ing on a Greek beach rapidly be­came an em­blem­atic im­age of the suf­fer­ing in­volved.

Ger­many threw open its bor­ders and vol­un­teers across Europe flocked to train sta­tions and fron­tier cross­ings to wel­come those flee­ing war and poverty.

But a ma­jor back­lash swiftly fol­lowed. The EU’s outer bor­ders have since come back down hard, the so-called Balkan mi­grant route has shut and anti-mi­grant sentiment has soared.

Mr Tusk said there were 65 mil­lion dis­placed peo­ple around the world, and “the G20 should scale up its share of re­spon­si­bil­ity”.

“We have enough space for all par­ties to dis­cuss th­ese prob­lems in­clud­ing China,” he said, call­ing for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance and devel­op­ment aid for mi­grants’ coun­tries of ori­gin.

Re­cent com­ments from lead­ers in Ger­many and Italy have sig­nalled a hard­en­ing of at­ti­tudes about how to re­solve the mi­grant cri­sis re­shap­ing pol­i­tics across Europe. –

Photo: EPA

Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk (sec­ond-left) meets with French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande (right, par­tially hid­den) and French Min­is­ter for Ecol­ogy, Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment and En­ergy Se­go­lene Royal at the El­y­see pres­i­den­tial Palace in Paris.

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