EU leader calls on Europe to donate aid for counties hosting Syrian refugees

Published September 22nd, 2015 - 06:30 GMT

The president of the European Parliament called on the EU to approve seven billion euros ($7.9 billion) for the Middle East countries hosting millions of Syrian refugees.

Martin Schulz said EU members should raise the money to help refugees in camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

In a statement released after he met President Francois Hollande in Paris, Schulz said: “The people who are arriving [in Europe] are refugees who have been threatened. We should welcome them. We should also immediately mobilize billions of euros for Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.”

He also called for the US to take a greater role in helping Syrian refugees.

Schulz said that only 2.5 billion euros had been allocated to date, raising fears of a fresh exodus of “people who, by desperation, leave to come to Europe.”

EU interior ministers are due to meet on Tuesday to discuss compulsory quotas for accepting 120,000 asylum-seekers. EU leaders are due to meet the following day.

The plans are opposed by central and eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

More than four million Syrians have fled their country, with nearly half hosted in Turkey, which has spent $5.6 billion on them since April 2011.

Schulz also announced that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hollande will jointly address the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Oct. 7.

“This is a historic visit for historically difficult times,” he said. “The EU is facing immense challenges and requires strong commitment by its leaders.” 

German support for Turkey

Meanwhile, Germany welcomed Turkey’s achievements in sheltering around two million Syrian refugees Monday and called on the EU to provide more support.

“We have a huge respect for Turkey’s efforts,” Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli said at a news conference in Berlin. “When one visits there and sees Turkey’s efforts, one also gets a realistic picture showing how important it is not to leave Turkey alone.”

She welcomed an EU plan for a 1 billion euro ($1.12 billion) program to assist Turkey, announced by EU enlargement chief Johannes Hahn last week.

Among the new measures to address the refugee crisis, EU leaders are also expected to compile a list of “safe countries of origin” to accelerate asylum applications.

Faced with a record number of applications, immigration authorities must be able to differentiate between economically-motivated migrants and asylum-seekers escaping conflict or persecution.

The European Commission has submitted a draft list of safe countries, including Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

The list assumes that people passing through these countries would not face persecution or danger, easing the process for returning them.

Chebli said Turkey should not be included as a safe country. “We do not share the view that Turkey should be classified as a safe country of origin,” she said, without offering an explanation.

Merkel later urged the US to help address the refugee crisis. “To believe that Europe can manage that alone without the assistance of US does not seem very realistic to me also,” she told a party conference in Berlin.

Merkel called for the US to accept more Syrian refugees, help improve camps in neighboring countries and tackle the root cause of displacement, namely the conflict in Syria.

Germany expects a record 800,000 asylum applications this year, four times last year's total.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that his country would accept around 85,000 migrants this year, including at least 10,000 Syrians.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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