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EU Committee seeks action for Syrian refugees

The EU and its member states should guarantee Syrian refugees safe entry to the EU and access to fair asylum procedures, says a resolution approved last week by the European Parliamentary Civil Liberties Committee.

It calls on the EU to go on providing humanitarian aid and support and on Syria’s neighboring countries to keep their borders open. Over 2 million refugees, 76% of whom are women and children, have now fled Syria.

According to the Committee, asylum claims by Syrians have increased over the course of this year. Overall, in the EU, Switzerland and Norway, there have been 52,037 Syrian asylum claims since the start of the conflict in 2011.

Within the EU, Germany (14,842) and Sweden (14,083) have received 59% of the claims lodged. While other countries have seen significant increases in applications, only one other member state has received more than 2,000 claims (the UK with 2,634).

The Committee has put forward a number of proposals, including:

  • Member states should explore all existing EU laws and procedures for means to give Syrians fleeing their country safe entry and temporary admission to the EU. The MEPs argue that Syrians seeking international protection should have “access to fair and efficient asylum procedures”, and reiterate the need for more solidarity with member states facing particular pressure to receive refugees.
  • EU countries should make full use of money to be made available from the Asylum and Migration Fund and the Preparatory Action to “Enable the resettlement of refugees during emergency situations”.
  • Member states and the EU Commission should work on contingency planning, including the possibility of applying the Temporary Protection Directive, “if and when conditions demand it”. Under this 2001 directive, which so far has never been triggered, refugees would be granted a residence permit for the entire duration of the protection period, as well as access to employment and accommodation.

The resolution will be voted on by the European Parliament later this week.

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