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France, Germany call for common EU refugee policy

4th Sep 2015
France, Germany call for common EU refugee policy
PARIS (AA): French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have urged European leaders to adopt a concerted strategy as the EU faces an unprecedented influx of refugees fleeing from war zones in the Middle East and Africa.

A statement issued by the French president’s office said the two leaders call on “the European Union to act decisively and in accordance with its values” and should impose binding quotas on the numbers member states take in.

“The President and the Chancellor agreed to forward joint proposals as from today to organize the reception of refugees and their equitable distribution in Europe, bring the standards to strengthen the European asylum system, ensure the return of irregular migrants in their country, and bring the necessary support and cooperation with countries of origin and transit,” read the statement.

The two leaders agreed that “those men and women, with their families, fleeing war and persecution… need international protection… Europe must protect those for whom it is their last hope.”

“For others who try to improve their material conditions through irregular channels; they must be accompanied back with dignity,” added the statement.

“What has been done is not enough. Some countries — I will not name them — are not meeting their moral obligations,” Hollande told a separate press meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused Sunday eastern European states, namely Hungary, of pursuing a “scandalous” policy against refugees, including erecting a fence on its southern border with Serbia.

Hollande said Europe “need a policy on migration that is fair and humane.”

Commenting on the tragic deaths of two Syrian brothers — the three-year-old Aylan Kurdi and his five-year-old brother Galip — after they drown when their boat en-route to Greece sank off coast of the Turkish resort town of Bodrum, Hollande said, “action must be taken in response”.

The photo of a Turkish gendarme officer carrying the lifeless body of Aylan after his body was washed up on the Turkish shore Wednesday went viral and triggered a worldwide outcry.

“If the picture went around the world, it must also get a round of responsibilities… I think about the victims are never photographed, and the future victims if we do nothing,” added the French leader.

Hollande has called for an emergency ministerial meeting Thursday evening to discuss the refugee crisis, according to the Elysee.

According to the United Nations, Germany is the largest recipient of new asylum claims in the EU in 2014, with an approximate 173,100 asylum applications and there are 1,938,999 registered refugees in Turkey as of August 25, 2015.

France and the U.K. have received 60,000 and 31,300 new applications for asylum by the end of 2014, respectively.

Around 2,500 refugees and migrants have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe this year alone, according to the UN.

Interior ministers of all 28 EU states are expected to meet on Sept. 14 in Brussels to discuss ways to cope with the migrant crisis.

Author: Hajer M’tırı
[Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and French President Francois Hollande (L) at a press conference. Photographer: Mehmet Kaman/Anadolu Agency]

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