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Alexander Betts talks to BBC News

This week the EU border agency Frontex stated that 107,500 ‘migrants’ arrived in the EU in July alone. On Wednesday, BBC News asked Alexander Betts to provide some context to this figure. He highlighted that according to UNHCR, the people crossing the Mediterranean to Europe predominantly come from refugee-producing countries such as Syria, and further that “some 95% of the world’s refugees are in countries that neighbour conflict and crisis”, not in Europe. For example, he said, “there are 4 million Syrian refugees around the world, but 3.5 million of them are in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Lebanon for instance, with a population of just over 4 million, has over a million refugees.”

Comparing the UK response with countries such as Germany and Sweden, which are taking in much higher numbers of asylum seekers, he said that “the UK is making it more and more difficult for people to arrive in the UK and claim asylum… its countries like the UK and Hungary that are avoiding responsibility, shirking their commitment to refugees and have to do more.” He emphasized that providing financial assistance is not enough, stating that “countries like Jordan and Lebanon are increasingly closing their borders because for them money isn’t enough… it’s not a good enough argument for us to say ‘we provide humanitarian assistance’, we also have to share responsibility for hosting people… It’s got to be a shared reciprocal responsibility within Europe across the 28 Member States and around the world to support those host states that take the majority of these desperate, vulnerable refugees.”

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