Bulgarian EU Commissioner: Syria Crisis Worst in Decades

Bulgaria in EU | November 2, 2013, Saturday // 14:25|  views

Bulgarian EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, photo by BGNES

The crisis in Syria is the worst humanitarian crisis of the last decades and, unfortunately, the prospect for the coming years is very pessimistic, said Bulgaria European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.

Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, explained in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio Saturday that in the last year only, the victims of this crisis have increased four times. The dead and those who lost their homes, from 1.2 million are now 5 million, while the number of refugees from Syria has increased eight times, said Georgieva.

She listed difficult access to humanitarian aid as the biggest problem in Syria.

"We have mobilized EUR 2 B and humanitarian aid is important for the people there, but it is important for us in Bulgaria, because the more help the Syrians get in their own country, the less they will flee to Europe," the Commissioner stated.

A common policy on the issue of refugees is a must, according to her.

"There is an impression that Europe has closed its doors to refugees. But it is not true. Last year, 330 000 people requested refugee status in Europe and 100 000 received it. More than 60% of them are in five countries - Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium, and Grand Britain. These five countries, unlike others, have a stand on the problem with refugees," said she.

Georgieva stressed a common policy would help Bulgaria to deport more easily and decisively those not eligible for refugee status as from those crossing the border, probably about 2/3 were genuine refugees.

"Until Europe establishes a common policy, we will always have the chaos that is created by the different reactions in different places, which form for the world the impression that Europe has decided to isolate itself from the problem. 74 % of refugees, who go to rich countries, come to Europe," the Commissioner noted.

She, however, opposes the idea to introduce quotas for each Member State to accept a certain number of refugees as being unrealistic.

Regarding the situation in Bulgaria, Georgieva explained she first became alarmed when she saw that from July to August, the number of refugees has increased 4 times.

"I met then with the Interior Minister, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of the Parliament to tell them what Europe can do to help. Since then, I see a very serious attitude of the Bulgarian authorities. There is much talk about xenophobia, its manifestations - unfortunately, they exist. But we see great humanity of Bulgarian people, who themselves do not have much money. Here's a story I heard – a nurse bought with her own money medications for BGN 250, went to Sofia to a refugee shelter to deliver them and help the sick. I'm proud of these acts of humanity," she pointed out.

The Commissioner assuaged fears of unmanageable refugee wave with the explanation Bulgaria is not among the most attractive destinations, adding since2/3 of Syrian refugees are women and children, security threats are also overstated.

"It would make sense for the Bulgarian government to turn to richer countries and ask help for the worst humanitarian cases - children with serious illnesses or elderly with serious illnesses. I expect to have an understanding in such cases," Georgieva concluded.

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Tags: Bulgaria, EU, commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, assistance, humanitarian aid, Syrian, refugees, refugee, europe, Syria


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