Christian Aid has renewed its call for EU members to respond with fairness and vision to the present refugee crisis, saying it was disappointed at the outcome of ministerial talks in Brussels this week.
The EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council failed to agree binding quotas that would commit EU member states to taking an additional 120,000 refugees - agreeing instead to relocate just 40,000 over a two-year period. In addition, although ministers did agree a welcome increase to the EU budget to help refugees in countries neighbouring Syria, additional funds will not be available until next year.
"We wanted a permanent, balanced and mandatory EU relocation scheme. Instead we got a political stalemate," said Christian Aid's Head of Advocacy, Laura Taylor, yesterday.
"Until there is peace in the region, people will continue to flee and they have a right to claim asylum, and to build a new life in safety. The EU has a moral obligation to help. EU countries need to stop treating the crisis as a political football, and come together to respond with fairness and vision, as well as increasing diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria.
"The promise of more money was welcome, but that will be in the 2016 budget. It is needed now. Countries like Lebanon and Jordan are overwhelmed by the number of refugees they are hosting, and winter is fast approaching, which will add to people's misery.
"Although UK aid there is welcome, and more generous than most, the international aid effort in the countries surrounding Syria is dangerously underfunded. While coverage of Prime Minister David Cameron's trip to Lebanon yesterday focused on some of the camps in the region, it is vital to remember that over 80% of the refugees are not in such facilities, but are living in the wider community, many of them in conditions of real hardship.
"Many are losing hope of both a peaceful solution and of adequate support and are attempting a perilous route to attempt to find safety."
In Europe, Christian Aid's partners in the Act Alliance - a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance - are providing emergency relief in Greece, Serbia and Hungary.
For several years Christian Aid has funded organisations working with refugees and the displaced in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, providing communities with food, bedding, hygiene kits and health services. In Lebanon and Iraq, partners are also working to provide psychosocial support to children and women in need.
Last week Christian Aid launched an appeal to support the work of its partners. Details at this link: https://donate.christianaid.org.uk/refugees
In addition, details of prayer vigils in relation to the crisis can be found at: www.christianaid.org.uk/prayers-and-vigils
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