Ger­many, Swe­den should not be left to shoul­der refugee bur­den: UNHCR

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The United Na­tions’ refugee chief warned Tues­day that Ger­many and Swe­den can­not be left to carry most of Europe’s asy­lum bur­den, as Ger­man media re­ported that the num­ber seek­ing refuge in the coun­try could surge to 750,000 this year.

In an in­ter­view with Die Welt news­pa­per, An­to­nio Guter­res called for more sol­i­dar­ity among Euro­pean coun­tries in tak­ing in those flee­ing war and per­se­cu­tion.

The re­spon­si­bil­ity must be “shared on many shoul­ders,” said the U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees.

“It is un­sus­tain­able in the long run that only two EU coun­tries — Ger­many and Swe­den — take in the ma­jor­ity of refugees,” he added.

“All coun­tries in Europe have the moral re­spon­si­bil­ity to welcome them and the clear le­gal obli­ga­tion to pro­tect them,” said Guter­res.

Ger­many has be­come the refugees’ top des­ti­na­tion.

One in three who ar­rived last year in the EU sought asy­lum in Ger­many.

Ber­lin had pre­dicted the num­ber of refugees to reach 500,000 this year, but the Han­dels­blatt news­pa­per on Tues­day quoted gov­ern­ment sources say­ing this fig­ure could rise to 750,000.

New of­fi­cial fig­ures are due to be pub­lished on Wed­nes­day, and if that pro­jec­tion is con­firmed, it would be a record and far more than the pre­vi­ous high in 1992, when Ger­many opened its doors to refugees flee­ing the Balkans wars.

The sharp jump in num­bers has left Ger­many scram­bling to find ways to host the refugees, with tents and schools used as tem­po­rary hous­ing.

State author­i­ties have been call­ing for greater fed­eral aid to cope with the de­mand.

In the EU, Swe­den recorded the next big­gest num­ber of asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions in 2014 — 13 per­cent, although as a pro­por­tion in re­la­tion to its pop­u­la­tion size, the coun­try is shoul­der­ing the big­gest bur­den in the bloc.

A record 60 mil­lion peo­ple around the world fled war, vi­o­lence and per­se­cu­tion last year, ac­cord­ing to U.N. data.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel warned Sun­day that the asy­lum cri­sis risks snow­balling into a big­ger chal­lenge for Europe than Greece’s debt woes.

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