• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'Relocate Syrian refugees within Europe': UN

The Local · 12 Mar 2015, 12:29

Published: 12 Mar 2015 12:29 GMT+01:00

As the Syrian war enters its fifth year, the UN’s refugee agency is calling for a new approach in Europe to support some of the 3.9 million people who have fled the conflict.

Under the UNHCR’s new proposals, presented to the EU, some Syrians would be relocated from their arrival points in southern Europe to elsewhere in the region.

“The situation in the Mediterranean is such that we think that it’s urgent to come with a fresh and bold look at what is happening, and to look at proposals to deal with this situation,” William Spindler, UNHCR spokesman, told The Local. 

Last year over 170,000 people arrived by boat to Italy, with Syrians making up the largest group. UN figures however show that only a minority seek asylum within Italy, with most Syrians travelling across European borders illegally to settle elsewhere.

READ MORE: Few of Italy's rescued migrants wish to stay

Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Recognizing this trend, Spindler said legal routes between southern and northern European countries must be opened up. The UN is calling for an agreement which would stop Syrians having to smuggle themselves across European borders, without altering the EU’s Dublin regulation on asylum seekers.

“We are not going as far as saying scrap Dublin or change the regulation, it was done for a reason. What we’re saying is let’s find a way of applying Dublin in such a way as it doesn’t cause this situation,” said Spindler.

The UNHCR would not disclose the numbers of refugees included in the proposal, referring only to a “more equitable distribution of refugees”, nor when an agreement could be reached. But with no sign of an end to the Syrian conflict, Spindler said the issue needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“The attitude now is to shift the problem to somewhere else. We can’t continue doing this; we have to show more solidarity within Europe, and between Europe and other countries receiving most refugees,” he said.

Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP

In addition to the relocation scheme, the UNHCR is also pushing the EU to come up with a “much more robust search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean”. Italy last year ended its Mare Nostrum sea mission, which cost an estimated €9 million each month, replaced by the EU’s significantly smaller Triton operation.

“It’s unacceptable that thousands of people drown finding safety in Europe,” said Spindler, with hundreds of deaths already reported this year.

“Some countries - Greece, Bulgaria, Italy - are finding it really difficult to cope with this situation. Many of these asylum seekers continue their journey but still the cost of rescue is on a few countries,” he added.

Story continues below…

The worsening security situation in Libya, from where the majority of migrants boats to Italy depart, has put even greater pressure on authorities in southern Europe.

The head of the EU’s border agency last week said that up to a million people were poised to flee Libya to Europe. "In 2015 we must be prepared to face a much more difficult situation than last year," Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said.

READ MORE: A million people could flee Libya: Frontex chief

Photo by Abdullah Doma/AFP

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Former nuns to get civil union in northern Italy
The former nuns have asked for anonymity; this photo is representative only. Photo: Pexels

The nuns fell in love during a mission, and will get their civil union on Thursday.

Earthquake volunteer dies on way home from Amatrice
Amatrice was the town most severely damaged by the earthquake. Photo: AFP

The engineer had cut short his summer holiday to assist with the post-earthquake recovery.

Italy tests 3,500 children for TB after doctor diagnosed
The doctor had carried out vaccinations on thousands of small children. File photo: Pexels

The hospital stressed the tests were a "precautionary and preventative measure".

Ancient Roman coins unearthed at Japanese castle
The 4th-century copper coin found in Japan. Photo: Jiji Press/AFP

How the coins got there is a mystery.

Italy slashes growth figures ahead of crucial referendum
Matteo Renzi at a press conference last month. Photo: AFP

Italy's economy has barely grown since 1999 - hitting working and middle class voters hardest. Economists say Italy will struggle to hit even the "prudent" revised targets.

Italy professor: Students should plagiarize - teachers do
One of the university buildings. Photo: Maris Firsova

A professor at Italy's oldest university says teachers are granted "impunity" in case of plagiarism.

Pope cars auctioned off to help Syrian refugees
The cars have personalized number plates. Photo: AFP

Got a spare €9,000?

Renzi revives plan for a 'bridge to Sicily'
Renzi said the bridge would "bring Sicily closer". Photo: Sarah Murray/Flickr

The bridge was first dreamed up in the 1960's, but no prime minister has succeeded in bringing it to fruition.

‘Destitute’ private jet owner fined thousands for tax fraud
The private jet-owner claimed to have no income or property. File photo: Bob Adams/Flickr

He had a private aeroplane and eight homes.

Italian mayor refuses to officiate civil unions
A protest in favour of civil unions earlier this year. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

“Why can’t a mayor be a conscientious objector?”

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Culture
Eight things you should know about Rome's Spanish Steps
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The incredible hero dogs of Italy’s earthquake
National
Why quake-hit Amatrice will never be the same again
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
2,523
jobs available