A day after the European Commission released new statistics revealing a slow implementation of the relocation mechanism, UNHCR has called upon EU Member States to increase their pledges and pace of relocation. So far only 3 per cent of the pledge to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other Member States has been met.

“UNHCR also calls upon the EU and Member States to revisit the eligibility criteria by lowering the threshold for relocation candidates to include additional nationalities likely in need of protection,” UNHCR’s William Spinder stated. “Currently, only asylum-seekers of nationalities with an average recognition rate of 75% or higher at the EU level are eligible for relocation. Based on the latest available EU data, this threshold excludes, for example, Iraqis, who previously met the threshold, as their average recognition rate has fallen to 73%.”

In total, 3,127 asylum seekers were relocated from Greece, and only 1,064 from Italy. France is the country that has relocated more asylum seekers from both countries (1,662). The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 15 September demanding EU Member States to honour their pledges and to speed up the implementation of the relocation scheme. The MEP’s voted against the Commission proposal to take 54,000 places from a scheme for relocating asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU member states, and use them to resettle Syrian refugees from Turkey in the EU instead. MEP Ska Keller underlined that the relocation scheme is “a true solidarity instrument that “needs to be strengthened, not watered down”.