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Member States must face their responsibilities towards refugees in need of protection

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, PACE President Anne Brasseur today made the following statement :

"Today, on World Refugee Day, it is the occasion to recall that worldwide displacement is at its highest level ever recorded. According to the UNHCR’s annual report, the number of people forcibly displaced as a result of wars, conflicts and persecution has risen to 59.5 million compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago. Unfortunately, the situation is likely to worsen further.

Here in Europe, we should realise that most of the world’s refugees – as many as 86 per cent – live in the developing countries and the majority of these countries have kept their doors open and showed solidarity with those in need.

I am ashamed that many European countries concentrate their efforts on avoiding taking their responsibilities towards the desperate people seeking protection instead of showing solidarity and support. Tragedies which we have been witnessing in the Mediterranean Sea are a dramatic illustration of Europe’s failure in this respect.

Fortunately, some Council of Europe member States have not closed their door or built walls at the borders, as a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly was able to confirm during a visit this week to Turkey. We were all impressed by the extraordinary welcome by the Turkish people and authorities to their neighbours in distress, 2 million refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

On this World Refugee Day, I appeal to Council of Europe member States to face their responsibilities towards refugees in need of protection, and support the countries which are coping with these refugee flows. Furthermore, safe legal channels to Europe through settlement, relocation or by way of humanitarian visas should be considerably increased. Europe’s solidarity and joint action in this respect are essential."