09/23/2015, 00.00
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EU resolution on migrants, ridiculous given “the magnitude of the problem”

Most European Union Interior ministers voted to distribute 120,000 migrants in Italy and Greece among the 28 EU countries. South-Eastern countries voted against it. Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis will be the priority. For EU President Juncker, the EU must do more compared to what Lebanon and Jordan are doing.

Brussels (AsiaNews/Agencies) – EU Interior ministers decided by a majority vote on Tuesday to distribute 120,000 currently in Italy and Greece throughout the 28-nation bloc.

For months, refugees have been pouring into Europe from Africa and war-torn Mideast countries, fleeing poverty and violence in search of asylum and a better future.

Yesterday’s resolution is the first in which the EU redistributes hundreds of thousands of people from refugee camps.

Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary opposed the mandatory quota scheme. Finland abstained. A proposal to take 54,000 migrants from Hungary was dropped.

The lack of unanimity in the vote signals a rift between south-eastern EU countries and the rest.

"As long as I am prime minister, mandatory quotas will not be implemented on Slovak territory," said Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico. "Only the future will show what a mistake this was," said Milos Zeman, President of the Czech Republic.

About 120,000 migrants from Africa and the Mideast "in clear need of international protection" will be resettled from Italy and Greece to other EU member states: 15,600 from Italy, 50,400 from Greece in the first year, and a further 54,000 from those countries later depending on the situation. Syrians, Eritreans, and Iraqis will be prioritised.

The 28 EU member countries will not be able to refuse migrants assigned to them; they can only ask for a delay to set up facilities for a portion of the refugees who will be assigned based on each country’s economic level of development and the number of asylum applications received.

A financial penalty of 0.002% of GDP will be imposed on member countries that refuse to accept relocated migrants. Countries that accept refugees will receive 6,000 euros per person.

For the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the split over 120,000 refugees makes Europeans look ridiculous.

“I sometimes wonder if the people of Lebanon, where a quarter of the [resident] population consists of refugees, and Jordan, which hosts 600,000 Syrian refugees, understand what we are talking. 120,000! We are ridiculous when one looks at the magnitude of the problem," he said at a conference in Brussels.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast that the tide of migrants into Europe will rise to 1 million in 2015 from 630,000 last year and will remain around that level for most of the decade.

The European Union estimates that half a million have reached its territory, with possibly 350,000 eligible for asylum or some form of international protection in Europe.

According to the United Nations, about 4 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey might attempt to move to Europe in the coming months.

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