On yesterday's BBC World Service Newshour, Professor Cathryn Costello highlighted the shortcomings of the EU response to the current refugee and migrant crisis. She stated that there are a number of fundamental problems – firstly, in forcing people to make dangerous journeys to seek protection; secondly, in the inadequate humanitarian response in frontline states and at times violence being perpetrated against those seeking entry; and thirdly, in the disproportionate burden being placed on a very small number of the 28 EU countries.
Regarding the need for a fairer distribution of refugees between EU states, Professor Costello said that a first small step in this direction is the agreement to relocate around 40,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, in particular Syrians and Eritreans who are generally recognized as refugees. And importantly, she said, within this agreement “is ‘a ‘distribution key’ for working out what would be an equitable number of asylum seekers to host based on a country’s GDP, how it’s doing economically and so on. So we are moving very slowly in that direction but of course this crisis isn’t moving slowly.” She highlighted that, in the case of Syrian refugees, it isn’t just Syrians within Syria who are losing hope and turning to the EU for refuge, but also those in countries of first asylum where conditions are becoming more difficult – in particular Lebanon and Jordan, but also Turkey. She concludes that “if we want people to stay in those countries, we have to support refugee protection there, but we also have to offer more resettlement opportunities.”