27 June 2014

As States gather today in Geneva to discuss resettlement and other forms of admission to ensure safe access for refugees fleeing the war in Syria, ECRE, CCME and ICMC have called for increased commitments to admit more refugees and recalled that NGOs stand ready to support the reception of refugees in Europe.

At the High-Level meeting on resettlement of Syrian refugees hosted by UNHCR, States will have the opportunity to announce further resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes for Syrian refugees. UNHCR has set the target of providing resettlement and other forms of admission for 100,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 – 2016.

In addition to increasing humanitarian assistance to Syria’s neighbouring countries, NGOs call on EU Member States to explore all ways to increase legal and safe access for refugees to Europe, including resettlement, humanitarian admission, programmes for children, and visa facilitation for extended family members, students and other groups with links to Europe.

“European States must seize this opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria and respond to the call of people in Europe with Syrian family members, who are desperately trying to get their loved ones to join them here, where they can rebuild their lives in safety and stability. This would also be an important gesture of solidarity towards the neighbouring countries bearing significant strain in hosting the 97% of the refugees fleeing the war in Syria”, said Michael Diedring, ECRE Secretary General.

”As NGOs, we stand ready to partner with governments and local authorities to ensure adequate reception and integration programmes for the refugees arriving in Europe”, said Petra Hueck, Head of the ICMC Europe office.

“It is high time for a joint EU commitment to take in further refugees and to increase assistance to neighbouring countries in a complementary manner,” Doris Peschke, General Secretary of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe added.

In 2013 – 2014, only Germany, Norway, Sweden and Austria offered more than 1,000 places for Syrian refugees, with Germany offering 20,000 places, out of the 25,000 offered by EU countries.

With the Europe Act Now #HelpSyriasRefugees campaign, over 100 NGOs along with over 20,000 people have called on European countries to give refugees a safe way into Europe including through resettlement and humanitarian admission.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 27 June 2014.
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