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Europe responding to migration challenge

33Ansar Ahmed Ullah ::

Europe is faced with a significant influx of migrants with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from war and poverty travelling to Europe in search of safety and a better life. As the European Union (EU) searches for the best approach to deal with this unprecedented increase in migration, in July the number of people arriving exceeded 100,000 for the first time ever, Members of European Parliament (MEP) have pressed for a comprehensive and fair asylum system.
According to EU border agency, 340,000 people mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Erithrea have arrived at Europe’s external borders so far this year, 100,000 of them in July alone. Greece and Italy are now the main entry points.
In the first quarter of 2015, 185,000 first-time asylum seekers applied for protection in the EU, the majority from Kosovo, Syria and Afghanistan. By the end of March there was still half a million people under consideration for asylum protection in the EU.
The refugees seeking shelter in the EU only represent the tip of the iceberg as for example only 6% of the four million Syrian refugees have headed for Europe. Some 1.8 million refugees are in Turkey, while another 1.2 million are in Lebanon, a country of 4.4 million inhabitants.
In a December 2014 resolution, MEPs called for a comprehensive EU approach to migration and demanded a greater effort to prevent the loss of life at sea. In April this year MEPs called in a resolution for binding quota for distributing asylum seekers among all EU countries, a bigger contributions to resettlement programmes, better cooperation with countries outside the EU and tougher measures against people smugglers. In July, the Parliament approved an extra €69.6 million to help EU agencies to cope with migrants.
On 10 September MEPs are to vote on a binding emergency mechanism to relocate 40,000 asylum seekers currently living in Italy and Greece to other EU member states. In addition more initiatives are expected in the coming months.
Member states’ justice and interior ministers meet in Brussels on 14 September to discuss the next steps while the European Commission is expected to propose a permanent asylum seeker relocation mechanism within the EU and a revision of the Dublin Regulation to ensure a fair distribution of asylum seekers in the EU.