Accessibility links

UNHCR: Rich Countries Must Do More to Shoulder Refugee Burden

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - Displaced people walk next to a razor wire fence at the United Nations base in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 19, 2016.

FILE - Displaced people walk next to a razor wire fence at the United Nations base in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 19, 2016.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, is calling on richer countries to shoulder more of the burden of caring for the millions of refugees who mainly have sought asylum in poorer countries.

Grandi says he is hopeful the renewed commitment made by governments attending the UNHCR's annual refugee conference in Geneva will translate into concrete actions to help resolve the world's burgeoning crisis.

"The majority of those 65 million that we always talk about are not in the rich world,” he said. “They are in the poorer countries. And, those poor countries need more of the rich world to share their responsibilities."

FILE - Migrants try to pull a child out of the water as they wait to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, some 12 nautical miles north of Libya, Oct. 4, 2016.

FILE - Migrants try to pull a child out of the water as they wait to be rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, some 12 nautical miles north of Libya, Oct. 4, 2016.

Richer countries can help in many ways, Grandi says, such as giving more money to the poor host countries or resettling more refugees.

It is a crisis that is growing, he says, noting that during the four-day refugee conference, 13,000 new South Sudanese refugees fled into neighboring countries. During the same period, he says, 10,000 refugees and migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, while people in eastern Aleppo remained trapped in their besieged city.

The European Union's plan for relocating 160,000 Syrian and other refugees has not been implemented, Grandi says, adding that much of the refugee crisis could be resolved if EU member states shared the burden.

Instead, Greece has shouldered the lion's share of the problem.

FILE - People queue to receive free food at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece, April 6, 2016.

FILE - People queue to receive free food at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece, April 6, 2016.

"They have 50,000 people that were blocked there when the borders got closed,” Grandi said. “Through relocation and perhaps resettlement outside Europe, most of that problem would be solved very quickly. And, Greece is ready to absorb those that cannot go through these other channels."

Grandi acknowledges that some protracted refugee problems — such as those stemming from Somalia and Afghanistan — are very difficult to resolve.

However, he says, there are numerous examples of progress. He cites Ivory Coast, Mali and Myanmar as examples of countries that have largely put their refugee problems to rest.

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG