The U.K. plans to resettle as many as 20,000 Syrian refugees currently in camps, British Prime Minister David Cameron has told members of parliament, BBC News reported Monday. The country will accept the refugees during the next five years, giving priority to vulnerable children and orphans.
The country’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, implemented in 2014, will be expanded, and 20,000 refugees now living in camps in Syria, as well as Jordan and Turkey, should be resettled in the U.K. by 2020, according to Cameron. The nation has a “moral responsibility” to resettle the refugees, he said.
French President Francois Hollande also announced early Monday that his country plans take in 24,000 refugees over the next two years, while proposing to host an international conference on the current refugee crisis, which is the worst of its kind since World War II. Germany has also reportedly planned to take in more than 31,400 refugees in attempt to relieve the burden falling mostly on Greece, Italy and Hungary at present, Agence France-Presse reported.
As thousands of refugees flee the war-torn Middle East, Greece’s islands have been centers of the crisis in Europe. The country sent two extra riot squads and 60 other police officers to the island of Lesbos Sunday, the Telegraph in the U.K. reported. Tensions have been high, with migrants and police clashing as thousands of refugees are stranded on the island, awaiting papers issued by Greek authorities to enable travel to the mainland. Once the refugees receive travel permits, they will be able to board ferries to Athens and then journey through the Balkans to other countries in Europe.
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“The registration process is very slow, due to lack of resources in the Greek police and coast guard,” Alessandra Morelli, a representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Lesbos, told the Telegraph. “We need to reduce the congestion. People are arriving every day, and there are not enough ferries to take them to Athens, to the point where it’s a crisis. They are extremely frustrated.”
Germany has also already welcomed thousands of refugees, with 8,000 refugees crossing German borders Saturday alone, federal police told AFP.