France to Welcome More Syrian Refugees

A Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Guest2625

A Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Guest2625

More Syrian refugees can now look to France as a safe haven.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on September 12 that France would welcome more Syrian refugees. Many nations, including France, have opened their doors to the refugees, now currently numbered at more than 2 million. According to the United Nations refugee agency, more than half of these refugees are children. The number has doubled since March of this year to four times the number of citizens of Lyon and just over the population of Warsaw.

“We have given instructions for application for asylum that can be heard much more quickly than in the past,” said Fabius on French radio station RTL.

Despite Fabius’s promise, France’s effort falls short of that of neighboring countries. Only 700 refugees have been granted asylum in France thus far, a far cry from the 4,700 in Sweden and 4,500 in Germany. Thus far, Sweden has been the only member of the European Union to offer blanket asylum to the refugees, provided they apply for asylum in Stockholm.

Countries neighboring Syria, as well as EU member states that are closer to the country, are experiencing the greatest influx of refugees. In Italy, more than 3,000 refugees arrived in August alone, bringing the total number in Italy up to 4,600.

The bloody civil war in Syria—which has been raging for two and a half years—has prompted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to call for all European member states to welcome 10,000 refugees. While many countries have promised financial aid, only a handful of countries have complied, leaving states like Greece and Italy to bear the brunt of the mass exodus.

In the meantime, NGOs and related organizations are working to ameliorate the situation.

“We are the largest humanitarian aid donor to the victims of the Syrian crisis and we are very active in supporting refugees, especially in the countries most affected by the crisis,” said Irina Novakova of the European Commission in an interview.  Total EU humanitarian funding for the crisis is currently at more than 1 billion euros.

Some have expressed approval of France’s recent efforts, which came in response to several associations’ urgent calls for France to welcome more refugees. Others, including Amnesty International, are skeptical at Fabius’s statement, saying that France should expand its efforts.

France has remained vague on the issue, saying that the terms of this expanded welcome cannot yet be specified.

“We welcome fewer [refugees] than other countries,” said Fabius, adding “we will be quick to get in contact with OFPRA (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons, responsible for processing asylum applications), to ensure that there can be more refugees.”

The UNHCR is currently calling on all countries neighboring Syria to maintain an open border for the passage of all civilians without distinction and to “facilitate the work of humanitarian actors where necessary, including border areas to ensure rapid and timely provision of aid.”

Trackbacks

  1. […] More Syrian refugees can now look to France as a safe haven. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that France would welcome more Syrian refugees. Many nations, including France, have opened their doors to the refugees, now currently numbered at more than 2 million. According to the United Nations refugee agency, more than half of these refugees are children. The number has doubled since March of this year to four times the number of citizens of Lyon and just over the population of Warsaw. “We have given instructions for application for asylum that can be heard much more quickly than in the past,” said Fabius on French radio station RTL. Read more about the Syrian asylum seekers in France. […]

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