EU has only 10 days to salvage migration system: Commissioner
The European Union’s top refugee official has warned that the 28-nation bloc has only 10 days to save a migration system which has been hit hard by a massive inflow of asylum seekers.
EU Commissioner of Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos said Thursday that the EU has until a March 7 summit with Turkey to control the flow of refugees to Europe.
“In the next 10 days, we need tangible and clear results on the ground. Otherwise there is a risk that the whole system will completely break down,” Avramopoulos told a press conference after a meeting of interior ministers on refugee crisis in Brussels.
The summit between EU and Turkish officials is deemed as very critical, especially at a time when the EU is trying to pressure Ankara about stricter measures to cut the refugee flow.
EU and Turkey signed a deal in November whereby Ankara has pledged to prevent refugees from daring the risky journeys across the Mediterranean in return for billions of euros in financial aid.
Avramopoulos repeated his previous criticism about increasing border controls and restrictions on refugee movements, urging the EU members to refrain from “unilateral actions.”
“We cannot continue to deal through unilateral, bilateral or trilateral actions; the first negative effects and impacts are already visible,” Avramopoulos said, adding, “We have a shared responsibility – all of us – towards our neighboring states, both EU and non-EU, but also towards those desperate people.”
The Greek diplomat also warned about an imminent humanitarian crisis in his home country, where thousands of refugees have been stranded due to toughened border controls by other EU members.
“The situation is very critical. The possibility of a humanitarian crisis is very real and very near,” Avramopoulos said.
The International Organization for Migration said Tuesday that more than 100,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy so far this year. More than a million also managed to reach Europe in 2015, creating the worst refugee crisis for Europe in decades