難民大量流入 欧州の支援策は奏功するのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Will refugee assistance measures by EU countries prove effective?
難民大量流入 欧州の支援策は奏功するのか

The true value of European Union cooperation will be put to the test through EU efforts to slow down the influx of refugees and illegal migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere and build a system to assist them in an orderly manner.

The EU recently held a summit of its leaders and pledged at least an additional €1 billion (about ¥130 billion) to international organizations, including the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This is to support refugees in countries neighboring Syria.

More than 4 million people have fled Syria, a country where a civil war continues, to such countries as Turkey and Jordan.

To reduce the number of refugees heading for Europe, it is vital to help stabilize the lives of people living as refugees in Syria’s neighbors. The EU’s assistance can be considered a desperate measure to tackle the refugee crisis, as a path to ending the civil war is not in sight.

The leaders of EU member countries have also agreed on establishing facilities for registering refugees and taking fingerprints in Greece and Italy, European gateways for refugees, by the end of November. It is to differentiate legitimate refugees from illegal migrants. The EU and its member countries will also cooperate in tightening border security.

A thorny problem for the EU is how to fairly share among member countries refugees who have entered Europe.

During a justice and interior ministers’ meeting, held prior to the summit talks, the ministers decided that the member countries would jointly take in 120,000 refugees, now hosted by Greece and Italy, over the next two years.

As Hungary, Slovakia and two other East European countries opposed the refugee sharing plan, the ministerial meeting had no other choice but to reach its conclusion through an unusual majority vote.

Sustainable system needed

The number of those refugees applying for European asylum is forecast to top 1 million this year. The latest decision on sharing refugees will be like a drop in a bucket, we think. Building a sustainable system to accept refugees is urgently needed.

The EU has hammered out the latest measures, including one to contain the influx of refugees, as its member countries are alarmed that the large numbers of refugees and migrants crossing their borders will threaten the social stability of their countries.

In Greece, a country burdened with fiscal woes, a far-right anti-immigrant party placed third in the general elections held on Sept. 20.

Germany, an economic powerhouse which has been generous in taking in refugees, began, in the middle of this month, limiting the influx of refugees with border checks. The measures are linked largely to protests by local authorities, whose capacity to accommodate refugees has surpassed their limits due to the upsurge in the influx. Also evident are the activities of ultra-right groups opposed to accepting the refugees.

The influx of refugees into Europe has now become an issue that the international community as a whole must tackle. The United States and Australia have pledged to accept more Syrian refugees.

Japan, for its part, has focused on extending such assistance as the provision of food to refugees in Syria’s neighbors and the improvement of water supply systems in these countries, contributing more than $1.1 billion (about ¥130 billion).

It is time for this country to rack its brains on how it can contribute further, in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2015)

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