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Europe looks for solutions to refugee tide
March 7, 2016, 2:55 pm

There are at least 14,000 refugees amassed along the border with Macedonia, Greek sources have said [Xinhua]

There are at least 14,000 refugees amassed along the border with Macedonia, Greek sources have said [Xinhua]

European ministers are gathered in the Belgian capital Brussels for an emergency meeting to find ways to resolve the refugee migrant crisis that has come to their shores over the past year.

They are looking at ways to stem the tide of refugees by closing the land routes they use to reach deep into Europe.

But they are also looking for solutions to deal with the hundreds of thousands who are on European lands.

This is the worst humanitarian crisis, they said, since World War Two.

A majority of the refugees are Syrians.

The summit was held amid another report that at least 25 people, including three children, drowned off the coast of Turkey while trying to cross the Aegean Sea to get to Greece.

Greek Prime Minister Alex’s Tsipras said that this is a common European problem even though Greece has absorbed the greatest number of refugees coming through the Mediterranean and crossing in from Turkey.

“We have to find a collective solution,” Tsipras said.

Athens says that more than a million people have transited through the country on the way to Macedonia, and eventually central and northern Europe.

Since January 1, more than 132,000 have crossed into Greece.

Humanitarian aid workers say that the number of refugees at the border has increased to 14,000 and is constantly growing after Macedonia closed off its border allowing access to only a handful of those fleeing Middle East wars.

Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary are also closing their border crossings.

European leaders have been pushing Athens to provide accommodation for up to 50,000 refugees.

Greek authorities said today that they will be able to provide shelter for 30,000 refugees.

Europe is also looking for ways to pressure Turkey to curb the numbers of refugees crossing the Aegean at their point of origin.

Many Syrians and Iraqis crossed their porous yet dangerous borders into Turkey, and from there made their way across choppy waters to the rest of Europe

The UN says there are at least 2.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Meanwhile, NATO says its naval vessels will for the first time patrol in Turkish and Greek waters in a bid to stop boats carrying refugees from reaching Greece and force them to return.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Royal Navy ships would contribute to the NATO effort.

But Contributing Editor Russell Merryman says that European leaders need to realize that they have failed to provide sufficient financial assistance to countries housing refugees – such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

“The leaders are starting to realise that last year’s unprecedented deluge of refugees was the direct result of their lack of financial support for the camps in Turkey and Jordan, despite pledges to the contrary,” Merryman writes.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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