Europe plans to house additional 120,000 refugees
FRANCE’S President Francois Hollande has announced that his country will take in 24,000 refugees over the next two years, while it is understood Germany will take 31,000 additional people under a European plan which is strongly opposed by Hungary.
The figure revealed by the French leader yesterday represents France’s share of a European proposal to relocate 120,000 refugees. European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, is due to unveil new proposals tomorrow.
European Union (EU) officials have said Juncker will propose adding 120,000 people to be relocated on top of a group of 40,000 the commission previously proposed relocating.
Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, told a gathering of foreign ambassadors yesterday, however, that the plan could not be discussed while the EU’s outer borders were not secured. “Our problem is with the timing.
As long as we can’t defend Europe’s outer borders, it is not worth talking about how many people we can take in,” he said. “What does that solve if we divide up 100,000 people, while in the meantime millions are coming?” The Hungarian leader instead wants the EU to provide funds to Turkey to keep refugees there, explaining refugees were coming to the EU for financial gain. “If they want to continue on from Hungary, it’s not because they are in danger, it’s because they want something else,” he said, adding the wanted “a German life”, not physical safety.
Unchecked, the stream of refugees would place an intolerable financial burden on European countries, he said, adding that this would endanger the continent’s “Christian welfare states”.
The plan is backed by countries including Germany, Austria, and Sweden, but former Eastern Bloc countries like Hungary, have been reluctant to accept the mainly Muslim influx of refugees. Hungary has struggled to cope with more than 150,000 refugees entering the country this year, including 50,000 in August alone with several thousand arriving each day.
The vast majority of those are heading for northern European countries such as Germany and Sweden. Orban’s criticisms of the EU plan came as Austria said it planned to end emergency measures that have allowed thousands of refugees to flow into the country since Saturday.
In an announcement on Sunday, Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann said his country would move gradually “towards normality”. “We have always said this is an emergency situation in which we must act quickly and humanely. We have helped more than 12,000 people in an acute situation,” Faymann said, according to the Reuters news agency.
Vienna had suspended its random border checks after photographs appeared online of a Syrian toddler lying dead on a Turkish beach. The images sparked global outcry and calls within Europe for governments to do more to help those trying to reach the European Union.
Vienna had agreed with Germany to waive rules requiring refugees to register an asylum claim in the first EU country they reach. Al Jazeera said refugees “are concerned about the remarks they’ve been hearing” from Prime Minister Orban and the Austrian chancellor. “
Austrian officials have told us there won’t be border controls, but there will be spot checks because they’re trying to stem the tide of human trafficking,” he said. Leaders from Merkel’s governing coalition also agreed to speed up asylum procedures and facilitate the construction of asylum shelters in a meeting on Sunday.
The agreement also included widening the list of countries deemed “safe”, meaning their citizens generally have no claim to asylum, to include Kosovo, Albania, and Montenegro.
Among those already in that category are Serbia, Macedonia, and Bosnia. The aim is to speed up asylum and extradition procedures for those from southeastern Europe, in order to focus on refugees from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
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