Brussels, 19 June 2015
On the occasion of World Refugee Day, Frans Timmermans, First Vice President for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, and Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, made the following statement:
"Every day, thousands of people are forced to flee their homes to escape violence and seek refuge, in their own countries or abroad. Many leave behind family members without knowing when or whether they will see them again. They are forced to abandon their education and professions.
The scale of displacement is immense and, as conflicts persist, the numbers are growing. Almost 60 million people are displaced worldwide – the world has not seen so many people fleeing conflict since the Second World War. Europe will not turn a blind eye. Nor can we when many of these displaced persons are seeking out safe haven on European shores.
With a crisis situation in the Mediterranean and instability at our borders, in May, the Commission set out a European response on managing migration better, addressing all parts of the chain – from the immediate need to save lives to working on root causes with partner countries and fighting against traffickers to a long term strategy on strengthening our asylum system and borders – making best use of EU agencies and tools, and involving all actors: Member States, EU institutions, International Organisations, civil society, local authorities and third countries. A week before a European Summit where EU leaders will discuss these proposals, solidarity and responsibility are the order of the day. We will be counting on leaders to match our level of ambition.
As part of these efforts, the Commission is working to open up legal channels for people to reach Europe without having to risk their lives on treacherous journeys in unseaworthy boats. We are calling on Member States to follow the Commission's recommendation by committing to an EU wide pledge to resettle 20,000 refugees from outside Europe over the next two years. Offering protection to those in need is a global responsibility – this is also about alleviating the pressure on our international partners such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where refugees now make up a considerable proportion of the population.
Beyond our borders, the EU is at the forefront in supporting refugees and internally displaced persons, and addressing the conflicts that force them to flee their homes in the first place. The EU provides humanitarian aid to refugees and internally displaced persons in 33 countries, and EU development assistance supports refugees in their host countries. The Commission is also a leading international donor, supporting refugees in developing countries with €200 million in ongoing projects from development funds and has provided more than €850 million of humanitarian assistance during 2014. Regional Development and Protection Programmes also provide shelter to those in need of international protection, often in close cooperation with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
As long as there is instability, people will continue to flee and seek refuge. There is no simple solution to this complex problem, but it is clear that there is no solution a single country can provide alone. This is why we are working everyday with international partners to try to build stability and preserve peace.
On World Refugee Day, the Commission calls on leaders in Europe to follow through on their commitment to greater solidarity and shared responsibility in addressing refugee crises. These are human lives at stake, and the European Union as a whole has a moral and humanitarian obligation to act."