As the Syrian war enters its fifth year, the UN’s refugee agency is calling for a new approach in Europe to support some of the 3.9 million people who have fled the conflict.
Under the UNHCR’s new proposals, presented to the EU, some Syrians would helped to from their arrival points in southern Europe to elsewhere on the continent, in order to stop Mediterranean countries being overwhelmed by refugees and asylum seekers making illegal, often unsafe journeys to other parts of Europe, including Sweden and Germany.
“The situation in the Mediterranean is such that we think that it’s urgent to come with a fresh and bold look at what is happening, and to look at proposals to deal with this situation,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told The Local Italy.
Last year over 170,000 people arrived by boat to Italy, with Syrians making up the largest group. UN figures however show that only a minority seek asylum within Italy, with most Syrians travelling across European borders illegally to settle elsewhere.
In Sweden, 50,235 people have sought asylum in the past three years. Sweden currently takes in more refugees per capita than any other European country and the Swedish government has pledged 1,200 resettlement places.
Recognizing this trend, Spindler said legal routes between southern and northern European countries must be opened up. The UN is calling for an agreement which would stop Syrians having to smuggle themselves across European borders, without altering the EU’s Dublin regulation on asylum seekers…
Related: ‘Segregation in Sweden will continue to rise’: Segregation between ethnic Swedes and people from foreign backgrounds has widened in the past two decades in some of the biggest towns in Sweden, according to the Dagens Nyheter daily.
Together with Statistics Sweden, the newspaper has mapped out ethnic segregation in 30 of Sweden’s largest municipalities, using a value it calls “the segregation differential”. The survey suggests that ethnic segregation has grown in all but two in the past two decades, Luleå in the north of Sweden and Solna near the capital.
Economics professor Olof Åslund, Director General of the Institute for Labour Market and Education Policy Evaluation, told Dagens Nyheter: “That the number of immigrants and native Swedes differs suggests segregation. We can tell that over a period over of time it is on the increase – it is noticeable. The number of people from foreign backgrounds has gone up and it has risen more in areas that already have a large number of immigrants.”