UN “Deeply Disappointed” at EU Response to Refugees

UN “Deeply Disappointed”  at EU Response to Refugees UN “Deeply Disappointed”  at EU Response to Refugees

The UN refugee agency said it was “deeply disappointed” Tuesday at the EU’s failure to reach agreement on relocating 120,000 refugees under a quota system.

“We do not want to see new fences,” spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told journalists in Geneva in response to the tightening of border restrictions among the European members of the Schengen border-free zone, particularly Hungary’s construction of a razor wire fence on its southern frontier.

She said Hungary’s crackdown on its border with Serbia was likely to see refugees choosing another route to reach destinations further into Europe, World Bulletin reported.

On Monday, EU interior ministers failed to reach agreement on relocating 120,000 refugees from “frontline” member states Italy and Greece to other countries under a quota system.

Fleming said the UN was “deeply disappointed that although a majority of member states were in agreement with a wider relocation proposal involving 120,000 people, a final consensus on this could not be reached.”

She added, “Decisive agreement is needed without further delay to address the needs, as is bold action based on solidarity from all member states.”

An earlier plan to relocate 40,000 refugees was agreed in Brussels on Monday but some members–primarily central and eastern European states–resisted a scheme for a greater number.

  Migrants Leave for Croatia

Dozens of migrants walked into Croatia from Serbia Wednesday. The newest EU member state is not yet a part of the Schengen Zone.

Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said that Croatia had prepared an “emergency plan in the case of an influx of thousands of refugees,” but did not give details. “The government will quickly activate that emergency plan if need be,” Ostojic added.

Until recently, buses ran to Serbia’s border with Schengen state Hungary, but on Tuesday the right-wing government in Budapest completed a frontier fence and imposed rules that briskly rejected asylum applications. Only 367 migrants crossed illegally into Hungary on Tuesday, the first day of tough laws to punish unauthorized entry into the country, and police reported that they had arrested all of them.

Hungary plans to prosecute 316 for damaging the barbed-wire fence set down on the border and the other 51 for illegally entering the country, police said. Under Hungary’s new laws, crossing the border illegally can result in a prison term of up to three years. This can rise to five years if people damage the razor wire or a more substantial 4-meter barrier which is still under construction along the 175-kilometer border with Serbia.

On Tuesday, a government minister said Hungary also planned to erect another anti-migrant fence along part of its border with Romania. The Council of Europe, the European human rights watchdog, has expressed concern.

  Maintain Public Order

With Hungary sealed off for the first time since the Iron Curtain, many migrants now hope to enter EU member Croatia and then Schengen state Slovenia, moving beyond to Austria and Germany. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Croatian police had rounded up the migrants and taken them away for registration.

Plans to cross into Austria could be complicated by apparently temporary measures that went into effect at midnight to “maintain public order” as the Austrian Press Agency reported that 2,500-3,000 people continue to leave the country for Germany daily.

However, Deputy Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner said there was still a “backlog” following Germany’s reimposing of its borders, effectively suspending the 1995 Schengen Agreement that provided for free travel between EU members and associated countries.