The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management has called for “political solutions” in dealing with “the root causes” of the migrant crisis: war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Speaking Friday in Belgrade, Serbia, following a meeting with Serbia’s prime minister, Christos Stylianides said that European institutions have taken a lot of initiative in Syria in order to persuade people to stay in their country.
“We must address the root causes of the refugee crisis. We must fight [for a] political solution inside Syria, inside Afghanistan, inside Iraq,” he said. “We made a lot of initiative inside Syria in order to provide not only basic needs but specific assistance, maybe through education, in order to safeguard dignity of refugees and in order to persuade them to stay there in their country.”
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksander Vucic said that his country will fulfill all its obligations to protect migrants and refugees.
Although the number of arrivals in Serbia has decreased due to the cold winter weather, some 2,500 migrants still cross into the Balkan country every day.
Vucic appealed to the European Union to adopt a common policy in dealing with the crisis and to extend more help in funding and resources to countries on the Balkan route.
“We will fulfill all the obligations we receive from the European Union as a serious, responsible country, by protecting the rights of these people, respecting their human rights, and at the same time, do what was agreed and what is an overall EU policy,” said Vucic.
A senior official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said that government policies in Europe and elsewhere are not keeping pace with the vast movement of people.
IOM’s Director-General Lacy Swing has said that the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe, the worst in the continent since World War Two, has firmly put the migration issue on the world stage. “The world is finally catching up to the fact that human mobility is a megatrend of our time,” said Swing.
IOM predicts that 2016 will be another critical year for migration to Europe, noting that one in seven people today is a migrant. Of these, 232 million are international migrants and 340 million are internal migrants.
More than 1 million refugees and migrants reached Europe by sea last year, according to the U.N. refugee agency and more than 3,770 people lost their lives making the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing.
(Archive photo: UNHCR/M Henley)