“We believe this may be the last opportunity for a coherent European response to manage a crisis that is increasing suffering and exploitation of refugees and migrants and it is also increasing the tension between countries”, she told reporters in Geneva.
The migrant influx into southern Germany slowed to about 7,000 irregular entries at the weekend, after two weekends that each saw 20,000 arrive, police said on Monday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed repeatedly that Germany will take in people fleeing civil wars and persecution, although people arriving for economic reasons must return home.
In a sign of growing frustration, a senior Austrian official, whose country has so far been welcoming of refugees, criticized asylum seekers for refusing to apply for sanctuary in Croatia and Slovenia and insisting on going to Germany, Europe’s strongest economy. “But to make out as if we alone can solve all the social problems of the world would not be realistic”, she said.
The EU’s executive has for instance been looking at whether it can reallocate up to 1 billion euros in funding for Turkey to help it cope with the 2 million Syrian refugees it has taken in.
Budapest has, however, opted out of the relocation scheme, leaving the quota of 54,000 refugees to be distributed among other states or to create a reserve pool for states who might feel the pressure of incoming asylum-seekers in the future.
But diplomats are anxious to avoid an outcome that could add to a rancorous atmosphere before EU leaders gather the next day to deal with crisis that risks gravely damaging the Union. Six countries -Hungary, Greece, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark and Ireland- have also been given the right by the European Commission not to be involved in the refugee quota system. Seemingly overwhelmed by an influx of some 25,000 migrants in recent days, Croatia has been sending them north by bus and train to Hungary, which has waved them on to Austria.
The OECD called on its 34 member countries, which include the USA and most of Europe, to “constantly” adjust immigration policies to take into account shifts such as war in Syria and political collapse in Libya, which have driven many people to seek refuge in Europe.
As the holder of the rotating presidency of the European Union, Luxembourg is working to broker a compromise that can break the deadlock between member states on sharing the burden of the crisis.
Eastern European ministers gathering Monday will once again voice their opposition to compulsory migrant quotas, as countries creaking under the strain of a steady stream of refugees struggle to agree on common action.
EU countries are preparing to green-light a controversial European Commission proposal to relocate 120,000 refugees across the continent, but diplomatic sources said the deal will not impose mandatory criteria for how many asylum-seekers each member state must accept. The latter two already host large ethnic minorities from outside the European Union and have experience in integrating migrants. Most of the migrants hope to reach prosperous Germany or Sweden.
“Hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived in Europe since the beginning of the year”, said Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister.