Cautious backing for EU refugee deal

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UN Refugee Agency chief Antonio Guterres said he was hopeful that the EU relocation plan is the beginning of a solution. Photo: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

The European Union's decision to take in 120,000 asylum-seekers received a cautious welcome on Thursday from the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Under the EU agreement, more than USD$1 billion will also be given to help millions of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

But UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres warned that the current relocation plan would only work if large reception facilities are created to register thousands of people arriving in Europe every day.

Daniel Johnson has more.

As 5,000 people continue to arrive in southern Europe every day, the UN refugee agency UNHCR gave cautious backing to how the EU plans to tackle the issue.

Under the terms of the deal, EU member states have to take in their share of 120,000 registered refugees.

The majority have fled conflict in Syria, according to UNHCR.

In addition, aid agencies are to get USD$ 1.1 billion to help Syrian refugees living in neighbouring countries Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

In a statement, UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said he hoped the EU measures would be "the beginning of a solution".

But he warned that the plan can only work if robust centres are built "to receive, assist, register and screen" the new arrivals.

And Antonio Guterres said that those who are not in need of protection in Europe must be returned to their country of origin humanely.

In total, UNHCR estimates that one on 10 Syrian refugees are in need of resettlement, a total of 400,000 people.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’04″



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