European Union urged to grant Syrians asylum and protectionListen /
Over 16,500 Syrians have applied for asylum within the European Union (EU) over the past 18 months, according to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR).
Countries with the largest applications include Germany with over 5,500, Sweden with 2,500 and Switzerland with 1,400.
UNHCR is appealing for EU member states to be sensitive of the situation in Syria, while processing the applications and to avoid forced repatriation of the asylum seekers.
Adrian Edwards from UNHCR says European Union member states may consider granting Syrian asylum seekers temporary protection, with the hope that the crisis facing the country will end soon and a return to their country made possible.
"While most Member States are processing claims and granting protection to Syrians, currently approaches to interpreting protection criteria and the type of status and entitlements granted vary considerably. In Greece, for example, the asylum system fails to meet the protection needs of many refugees. In some countries on the Eastern border of the EU rejection rates are more than 50 per cent. In addition, some countries are more likely to give Syrians a tolerated stay rather than actual protection. There is therefore a risk that people in need of protection will be denied the rights to which they are entitled under EU or international law and will be compelled to move on.” (Duration: 39″)
So far, nearly 350,000 Syrians have fled their country into Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey where they are being hosted by local families and refugee camps.