German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday urged EU member states to do more to resettle refugees.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Merkel backed a recent proposal by the UN to increase the number of refugees to be resettled in the EU from the earlier pledged figure of 20,000 to 40,000.
“I think that 40,000 is a figure that will certainly not overstretch a continent with over 500 million people,” Merkel said, adding that the resettlement program was an important part of their efforts to fight smugglers and manage irregular migration flow.
She made the remarks at a joint press conference with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and International Organization for Migration Director-General William Lacy Swing, following their talks on the refugee crisis and irregular migration in the Mediterranean.
The EU member states agreed in July 2015 to resettle around 20,000 refugees from conflict regions, to ease the burden on countries which host hundreds of thousands of refugees.
But in the last two years, only 17,000 refugees were accepted by the EU member states as part of the resettlement plan.
Many of these refugees were Syrians who fled the civil war and sought protection in the neighboring countries — Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
EU member states Hungary and Poland continue their objection to the resettlement plan.
Source: Anadolu Agency