A long-term refugee crisis, with thousands stranded in substandard camps, has unfolded on European soil. On the Greek islands, 14,331 men, women and children await possible return to Turkey and the Greek Government reports 60,788 people of concern across the country. With increased border restrictions, some 6,000 refugees are now in Serbia, stretching the capacities of accommodation facilities. Close to 1,000 people are sleeping rough in the capital or at the two transit zones on the border with Hungary while the weather is turning increasingly colder.
The refugee crisis is part of a new global norm, in which unusually large numbers of people are displaced for longer than ever before, and where the disparity between their needs and provision is growing by the week. Europe's first priority must be to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees who have already arrived, and to process their asylum claims, family reunion and relocation transfers quickly. Denied safe pathways into Europe, significantly more refugees are risking their lives by travelling via smuggling routes through the Balkans. Elsewhere in Europe, desperate people also continue to make the dangerous sea voyage from Libya to Italy.
The proposed Union Resettlement Scheme represents a major opportunity for the EU to step up to its global responsibilities. An Immediate increase in resettlement efforts is required to offer safe routes of entry for those seeking sanctuary, alongside a robust and humane system to receive spontaneous arrivals. The UN estimates that 10% of the global refugee population - the most vulnerable - need resettlement. The IRC calculates that the European share is a minimum of 540,000 over the next five years, or 108,000 per year.