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Merkel, Hollande Urge EU-Wide Resettlement Plan for Refugees

Image: Merkel, Hollande Urge EU-Wide Resettlement Plan for Refugees
(Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

Friday, 04 Sep 2015 09:33 AM

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande urged the European Union to agree on a redistribution plan for refugees and speed up processing in countries where they arrive.

The German-French letter to European officials including EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reflects a growing sense of urgency in national capitals about the need to solve the region's biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

"We urgently need a permanent and binding mechanism for the resettlement of these people," Steffen Seibert, Merkel's chief spokesman, quoted the letter as saying. "Those who don't require protection have to be consistently sent back right out of the reception centers."

The two leaders said Italy and Greece need to get processing centers up and running by the end of the year, and that similar installations may be needed in other countries, Seibert said at a news briefing in Berlin on Friday. The leaders also say EU governments should agree on which non-EU nations to designate as so-called safe countries whose citizens don't qualify for political asylum.

EU aid to countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, which have taken in many Syrian refugees, should be stepped up, Seibert quoted the letter as saying.

While Merkel and Hollande agreed in a phone call on Thursday that the EU needs binding country-by-country quotas for asylum seekers, their letter doesn't explicitly mention quotas, according to Seibert.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande urged the European Union to agree on a redistribution plan for refugees and speed up processing in countries where they arrive.
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