Swoboda in Syrian refugee plenary debate: "EU must offer opportunities in this tragedy"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 00:00

In today's plenary session, the European Parliament discussed how the EU and member states can tackle the flow of refugees resulting from the conflict in Syria.

Speaking in the debate, Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said:

"Now that the immediate threat of the Syrian regime using chemical weapons has been alleviated, the priority must be to find a peaceful solution for the ongoing conflict in Syria. From handheld weapons to fighter jets, the bloodshed continues with conventional weapons.

"The mass exodus of Syrian refugees – over two million people, more than three quarters of whom are women and children – into neighbouring countries is the result of the ongoing violent conflict. As long as the violence does not end, the flood of Syrians fleeing their country will not end.

"Europe should act in this tragedy and offer young Syrians opportunities to study and train so that when they can return to their country they will be able to build a new Syria. The EU and its member states must also increase their financial and logistical support for organisations accommodating refugees.

"The European Parliament's resolution calls on Syria's neighbours – notably Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq – to keep their borders open and to continue to accommodate refugees. But the European Union has a role to play, too."

Sylvie Guillaume, S&D Group vice-president, added:

"The newly revised Common European Asylum System will be nothing but an empty shell if access to Europe is rendered difficult, if not impossible, for Syrians seeking protection. 

"International solidarity must therefore also include sharing the responsibility for receiving refugees. If more member states provide a safe entry into the EU, fewer Syrian refugees will fall prey to human traffickers and put their lives at risk by taking increasingly dangerous routes."

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